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Paul and Percival 



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AUG 311971^ 




Means of Livelihood 
and Ways of Life 

Percival and Paul 



New York 

Copyright, 1947, I960, by Percival and Paul Goodman 

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copy- 
right Conventions. Published in New York by Random House, Inc., 
and in Toronto, Canada, by Random House of Canada, Limited. 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 60-6381 

are published by ALFRED A. KNOPF, INC. 

Manufactured in the United States of America 


1 Introduction 3 


A Manual of Modern Plans 

2 The Green Belt 25 

3 Industrial Plans 57 

4 Integrated Plans 86 


Three Community Paradigms 

Introduction 119 

5 A City of Efficient Consumption 125 

6 A New Community: the Elimination of 
the Difference between Production and 
Consumption 153 

7 Planned Security with Minimum 
Regulation 188 

8 Conclusion 18 

Means of Livelihood and Ways of Life 

Poverty, plenty and luxury 



Background and Foreground 

Of the man-made things, the works of engineering and 
architecture and town plan are the heaviest and biggest 
part of what we experience. They lie underneath, they loom 
around, as the prepared place of our activity. Economically, 
they have the greatest amount of past human labor frozen 
into them, as streets and highways, houses and bridges, and 
physical plant. Against this background we do our work 
and strive toward our ideals, or just live out our habits; 
yet because it is background, it tends to become taken for 
granted and to be unnoticed. A child accepts the man-made 
background itself as the inevitable nature of things; he does 
not realize that somebody once drew some lines on a piece 
of paper who might have drawn otherwise. But now, as 
engineer and architect once drew, people have to walk and 

The background of the physical plant and the foreground 
of human activity are profoundly and intimately dependent 
on one another. Laymen do not realize how deep and subtle 
this connection is. Let us immediately give a strong archi- 
tectural example to illustrate it. In Christian history, there 
is a relation between the theology and the architecture of 
churches. The dimly-lit vast auditorium of a Gothic Catholic 
cathedral, bathed in colors and symbols, faces a bright 
candle-lit stage and its richly costumed celebrant: this is 
the necessary background for the mysterious sacrament of 
the mass for the newly growing Medieval town and its 
representative actor. But the daylit, small, and unadorned 
meeting hall of the Congregationalist, facing its central 
pulpit, fits the belief that the chief mystery is preaching the 


Word to a group that religiously governs itself. And the little 
square seating arrangement of the Quakers confronting one 
another is an environment where it is hoped that, when 
people are gathered in meditation, the Spirit itself will 
descend anew. In this sequence of three plans, there is a 
whole history of dogma and society. Men have fought wars 
and shed their blood for these details of plan and decoration. 

Just so, if we look at the town plan of New Delhi we can 
immediately read off much of the history and social values 
of a late, date of British imperialism, And if we look at the 
Garden City plan of Greenbelt, Md., we can understand 
something very important about our present American era 
of the "organization man." 

We can read immediately from the industrial map of the 
United States in 1850 that there were sectional political 
interests. Given a certain kind of agricultural or mining plan, 
we know that, whatever the formal schooling of the society 

Reading the social values from the plan: 1. New Delhi: British 
imperialism in India 2. Greenbelt, Md.: the disconnection of 
domestic and productive life 

Introduction 5 

may be, a large part of the environmental education of the 
children will be technological; whereas a child brought up 
in a modern suburb or city may not even know what work it 
is that papa does "at the office." 

Contemporary Criticism 

of Our American Way of Life 

For thirty years now, our American way of life as a whole 
has been subjected to sweeping condemnation by thoughtful 
social and cultural critics. From the great Depression to 
World War II, this criticism was aimed mostly at our eco- 
nomic and political institutions; since the war, it has been 
aimed, less trenchantly but more broadly, at the Standard 
of Living, the popular culture, the ways of work and leisure. 
The critics have shown with pretty plain evidence that 
we spend our money for follies, that our leisure does not 
revive us, that our conditions of work are unmanly and our 
beautiful American classlessness is degenerating into a static 
bureaucracy; our mass arts are beneath contempt; our pros- 
perity breeds insecurity; our system of distribution has be- 
come huckstering and our system of production discourages 
enterprise and sabotages invention. 

In this book we must add, alas, to the subjects of this 
cultural criticism the physical plant and the town and 
regional plans in which we have been living so unsatisfac- 
torily. We will criticize not merely the foolish shape and 
power of the cars but the cars themselves, and not merely 
the cars but the factories where they are made, the highways 
on which they run, and the plan of livelihood that makes 
those highways necessary. In appraising these things, we 
employ both the economic analysis that marked the books 
of the 30's and the socio-psychological approach prevalent 
since the war. This is indicated by our sub-title: "The Means 
of Livelihood and the Ways of Life/' (In social theory, this 
kind of analysis provides one necessary middle term in 
the recent literature of criticism, between the economic and 


the cultural analyses, which have usually run strangely 
parallel to one another without touching.) 

Nevertheless, except for this introductory chapter, this 
present book is not an indictment of the American way of 
life, but rather an attempt to clarify it and find what its 
possibilities are. For it is confused, it is a mixture of conflict- 
ing motives not ungenerous in themselves. Confronted with 
the spectacular folly of our people, one is struck not by their 
incurable stupidity but by their bafflement about what to do 
with themselves and their productivity. They seem to be 
trapped in their present pattern, with no recourse but to 
complicate present evils by more of the same. Especially in 
the field of big physical planning, there has been almost a 
total drying-up of invention, of new solutions. Most of the 
ideas discussed in this book come from the 20's or before, a 
few from the early 30's. Since World War II, with all the 
need for housing, with all the productive plant to be put to 
new work and capital to invest, the major innovation in com- 
munity planning in the United States has been the out-of- 
town so-called "community center" whose chief structure 
is a supermarket where Sunday shoppers can avoid blue 

Typical American behavior is to solve a problem of 
transit congestion by creating a parallel system that builds 
up new neighborhoods and redoubles the transit congestion; 
but no effort is made to analyze the kinds and conditions of 
work so that people commute less. With generous intent, 
Americans clear a slum area and rebuild with large projects 
that re-create the slum more densely and, on the whole, soci- 
ologically worse, for now class stratification is built organic- 
ally into the plan; but rarely is an effort made to get people 
to improve what they have, or to find out where they ought 
to move. (The exceptions of the Hudson Guild in New 
York teaching six Puerto Rican families to make furniture 
and paint the premises, or of a block getting together to 
plant nine treesare so exceptional that they warrant medals 
from the American Institute of Architects.) A classical ex- 

Introduction 7 

ample of our present genius in planning is solving the traffic 
jam on the streets of a great city in the West by making a 
system of freeways so fast and efficient with its cloverleaves 
as to occupy 40% of the real estate, whose previous occu- 
pants then move to distant places and drive back bumper- 
to-bumper on the freeways. 

If, however, someone plans in a physicianly way to rem- 
edy the causes of an ill rather than concentrate on the 
symptoms, if he proposes a Master Plan to provide for 
orderly future development, if he suggests an inventive new 
solution altogether, then he is sure to be called impractical, 
irresponsible, and perhaps a subversive alien. Indeed, in the 
elegant phrase of the famous Park Commissioner of an 
Eastern metropolis, a guardian of the public welfare and 
morals in the field, such people are Bei-unskis, that is, Rus- 
sian or German refugees who say, "Bei uns we did it this 

Inherent Difficulties of Planning 

Yet even apart from public foolishness and public officials, 
big physical planning is confusing and difficult. Every com- 
munity plan is based on some: 


Standard of Living 

Political and Economic Decision 

Geography and History of a Place. 

Every part of this is thorny and the interrelation is thorny. 
There may be historical miscalculationwrong predic- 
tions in the most expensive matters. Consider, for instance, 
a most celebrated example of American planning, the laying- 
out of the District of Columbia and the city of Washington. 
When the site on the Potomac was chosen, as central in an 
era of slow transportation, the plan was at the same time 
to connect the Potomac waterway with the Ohio, and the 
new city was then to become the emporium of die West. 


But the system of canals which would have realized this 
ambitious scheme did not materialize, and therefore, a 
hundred years later, Washington was still a small political 
center, pompously overplanned, without economic signifi- 
cance, while the commerce of the West flowed through the 
Erie Canal to New York. Yet now, ironically enough, the 
political change to a highly centralized bureaucracy has 
made Washington a great city far beyond its once exag- 
gerated size. 

Planners tend to put a misplaced faith in some one im- 
portant factor in isolation, usually a technological innova- 
tion. In 1915, Patrick Geddes argued that, with the change 
from coal to electricity, the new engineering would, or 
could, bring into being Garden Cities everywhere to replace 
the slums; for the new power could be decentralized and 
was not in itself offensive. Yet the old slum towns have 
largely passed away to be replaced by endless conurbations 
of suburbs smothered in new feats of the new engineering 
and the automobile exhaust is more of a menace than the 
coal smoke. Our guess is that these days nucleonics as such 
will not accomplish miracles for us, nor even automation. 

The Garden City idea itself, as we shall see in the next 
chapter, has had apathetic history. When Ebenezer Howard 
thought it up to remedy the coal slums, he did not contem- 
plate Garden Cities without industry; he wanted to make 
it possible for people to live decently with the industry. Yet, 
just when the conditions of manufacture have become less 
noisome, it has worked out that the Green Belt and Garden 
Cities have become mere dormitories for commuters, who 
are also generally not the factory workers whom Howard 
had in mind. 

Political Difficulties 

The big, heavy, and expensive physical environment has 
always been the chief locus of vested rights stubbornly op- 
posing planning innovations that are merely for the general 

's proposal to connect the Potomac and Ohio rivers 

welfare and do not yield quick profits. A small zoning or- 
dinance is difficult to enact, not to speak of a master plan for 
progressive realization over twenty or thirty years, for zon- 
ing nullifies speculation in real estate. Every advertiser in 
American City and Architectural Forum has costly wares to 
peddle, and it is hard to see through their smokescreen what 
services and gadgets are really useful, and whether or not 
some simpler, more inexpensive arrangement is feasible. 
Since streets and subways are too bulky for the profits of 
capricious fads, the tendency of business in these lines is to 
repeat the tried and true, in a bigger way. And it happens 
to be just the real estate interests and great financiers like 
insurance companies who have influence on city councils 
and park commissioners. 

But also, apart from business interests and vested rights, 
common people are rightly very conservative about changes 
in the land, for they are very powerfully affected by such 


changes in very many habits and sentiments. Any com- 
munity plan involves a formidable choice and fixing of living 
standards and attitudes, of schedule, of personal and cul- 
tural tone. Generally people move in the existing plan un- 
consciously, as if it were nature (and they will continue 
to do so, until suddenly the automobiles don't move at all) . 
But let a new proposal be made and it is astonishing how 
people rally to the old arrangement. Even a powerful park 
commissioner found the housewives and their perambu- 
lators blocking his way when he tried to rent out a bit of 
the green as a parking lot for a private restaurant he favored; 
and wild painters and cat-keeping spinsters united to keep 
him from forcing a driveway through lovely Washington 
Square. These many years now since 1945, the citizens of 
New York City have refused to say "Avenue of the Ameri- 
cas" when they plainly mean Sixth Avenue. 

The trouble with this good instinct not to be regimented 
in one's intimate affairs by architects, engineers, and inter- 
national public-relations experts is that "no plan" always 
means in fact some inherited and frequently bad plan. For 
our cities are far from nature, that has a most excellent plan, 
and the "unplanned" tends to mean a gridiron laid out for 
speculation a century ago, or a dilapidated downtown when 
the actual downtown has moved uptown. People are right 
to be conservative, but what is conservative? In planning, 
as elsewhere in our society, we can observe the paradox that 
the wildest anarchists are generally affirming the most 
ancient values, of space, sun, and trees, and beauty, human 
dignity, and forthright means, as if they lived in neolithic 
times or the Middle Ages, whereas the so-called conserva- 
tives are generally arguing for policies and prejudices that 
date back only four administrations. 

The best defense against planning and people do need 
a defense against planners is to become informed about the 
plan that is indeed existent and operating in our lives; and 
to learn to take the initiative in proposing or supporting 
reasoned changes. Such action is not only a defense but 

Introduction 1 1 

good in itself, for to make positive decisions for one's com- 
munity, rather than being regimented by others' decisions, 
is one of the noble acts of man. 

Technology of Choice 

and Economy of Abundance 

The most curious anomaly, however, is that modern tech- 
nology baffles people and makes them timid of innovations 
in community planning. It is an anomaly because for the first 
time in history we have, spectacularly in the United States, 
a surplus technology, a technology of free choice, that allows 
for the most widely various community-arrangements and 
ways of life. Later in this book we will suggest some of the 
extreme varieties that are technically feasible. And with 
this technology of choice, we have an economy of abun- 
dance, a standard of living that is in many ways too high- 
goods and money that are literally thrown away or given 
away that could underwrite sweeping reforms and pilot ex- 
periments. Yet our cultural climate and the state of ideas 
are such that our surplus, of means and wealth, leads only 
to extravagant repetitions of the "air-conditioned night- 
mare," as Henry Miller called it, a pattern of life that used 
to be unsatisfactory and now, by the extravagance, becomes 

Think about a scarcity economy and a technology of 
necessity. A cursory glance at the big map will show what 
we have inherited from history. Of the seven urban areas 
of the United Kingdom, six coincide with the coal beds; 
the seventh, London, was the port open to the Lowlands 
and Europe. When as children we used to learn the capitals 
and chief cities of the United States, we learned the rivers 
and lakes that they were located on, and then, if we knew 
which rivers were navigable and which furnished water- 
power, we had in a nutshell the history of American econ- 
omy. Not long ago in this country many manufacturers 
moved south to get cheaper labor, until the labor unions 


followed them. In general, if we look at the big historical 
map, we see that the location of towns has depended on 
bringing together the raw material and the power, on mini- 
mizing transportation, on having a reserve of part-time and 
seasonal labor and a concentration of skills, and sometimes 
(depending on the bulk or perishability of the finished 
product) on the location of the market. These are the kinds 
of technical and economic factors that have historically de- 
termined, with an iron necessity, the big physical plan of 
industrial nations and continents. 

They will continue to determine them, but the iron neces- 
sity is relaxed. For almost every item that men have in- 
vented or nature has bestowed, there are alternative choices. 
What used to be made of steel (iron ore and coal) may now 
often be made of aluminum (bauxite and waterpower) or 
even of plastic (soybeans and sunlight). Raw materials 
have proliferated, sources of power have become more ubiq- 
uitous, and there are more means of transportation and 
lighter loads to carry. With the machine-analysis of manu- 
facture, the tasks of labor become simpler, and as the ma- 
chines have become automatic our problem has become, 
astoundingly, not where to get labor but how to use leisure. 
Skill is no longer the arduously learned craftsmanship of 
hundreds of trades and crafts for its chief habits (styling, 
accuracy, speed) are built into the machine; skill has come 
to mean skill in a few operations, like turning, grinding, 
stamping, welding, spraying and half a dozen others, that 
intelligent people can learn in a short time. Even inspection 
is progressively mechanized. The old craft-operations of 
building could be revolutionized overnight if there were 
worthwhile enterprises to warrant the change, that is, if there 
were a social impetus and enthusiasm to build what every- 
body agrees is useful and necessaiy. 

Consider what this means for community planning on any 
scale. We could centralize or decentralize, concentrate 
population or scatter it. If we want to continue the trend 
away from the country, we can do that; but if we want to 

Introduction 13 

combine town and country values in an agrindustrial way of 
life, we can do that. In large areas of our operation, we 
could go back to old-fashioned domestic industry with per- 
haps even a gain in efficiency, for small power is everywhere 
available, small machines are cheap and ingenious, and 
there are easy means to collect machined parts and centrally 
assemble them. If we want to lay our emphasis on providing 
still more mass-produced goods, and raising the standard of 
living still higher, we can do that; or if we want to increase 
leisure and the artistic culture of the individual, we can do 
that. We can have solar machines for hermits in the desert 
like Aldous Huxley or central heating provided for millions 
by New York Steam. All this is commonplace; everybody 
knows it. 

It is just this relaxing of necessity, this extraordinary flexi- 
bility and freedom of choice of our techniques, that is baf- 
fling and frightening to people. We say, "If we want, we 
can," but offered such wildly possible alternatives, how the 
devil would people know what they want? And if you ask 
them as it was customary after the war to take polls and 
ask, "What kind of town do you want to live in? What do 
you want in your post-war home?" the answers reveal a 
banality of ideas that is hair-raising, with neither rational 
thought nor real sentiment, the conceptions of routine and 
inertia rather than local patriotism or personal desire, of 
prejudice and advertising rather than practical experience 
and dream. 

Technology is a sacred cow left strictly to (unknown) ex- 
perts, as if the form of the industrial machine did not pro- 
foundly affect every person; and people are remarkably 
superstitious about it. They think that it is more efficient to 
centralize, whereas it is usually more inefficient. (When this 
same technological superstition invades such a sphere as the 
school system, it is no joke. ) They imagine, as an article of 
faith, that big factories must be more efficient than small 
ones; it does not occur to them, for instance, that it is 
cheaper to haul machined parts than to transport workmen, 


Indeed, they are outraged by the good-humored demonstra- 
tions of Borsodi that, in hours and minutes of labor, it is 
probably cheaper to grow and can your own tomatoes than 
to buy them at the supermarket, not to speak of the quality. 
Here once again we have the inevitable irony of history: 
industry, invention, scientific method have opened new 
opportunities, but just at the moment of opportunity, people 
have become ignorant by specialization and superstitious of 
science and technology, so that they no longer know what 
they want, nor do they dare to command it. The facts are 
exactly like the world of Kafka: a person has every kind of 
electrical appliance in his home, but he is balked, cold-fed, 
and even plunged into darkness because he no longer knows 
how to fix a faulty connection. 

Certainly this abdication of practical competence is one 
important reason for the absurdity of the American Standard 
of Living. Where the user understands nothing and cannot 
evaluate his tools, you can sell him anything, It is the user, 
said Plato, who ought to be the judge of the chariot. Since 
he is not, he must abdicate to the values of engineers, who 
are craft-idiots, or God save us! to the values of sales- 
men. Insecure as to use and value, the buyer clings to the 
autistic security of conformity and emulation, and he can 
no longer dare to ask whether there is a relation between 
his Standard of Living and the satisfactoriness of life. Yet 
in a reasonable mood, nobody, but nobody, in America takes 
the American standard seriously. (This, by the way, is what 
Europeans don't understand; we are not such fools as they 
imagine we are far more at a loss than they think. ) 

Still Another Obstacle 

We must mention still another obstacle to community 
planning in our times and a cause of the dull and unadven- 
turous thinking about it: the threat of war, especially atomic 
war. People feel and they are bang right that there is 




1. Abandoned city, could serve as decoy 2. Factory S. Rocket 
Launching Platform 4. Entrances to Factory 5. Road under 
6. Dwellings 7. Landing field 8. Trojan horses 9. Staff meeting 
10. G.H.Q. 

not much point in initiating large-scale and long-range im- 
provements in the physical environment, when we are 
uncertain about the existence of a physical environment the 
day after tomorrow. A sensible policy for highways must be 
sacrificed to the needs of moving defense, Nor is this de- 
feated attitude toward planning relieved when military ex- 
perts come forth with spine-tingling plans that propose the 
total disruption of our present arrangements solely in the 
interest of minimizing the damage of the bombs. Such 
schemes do not awaken enthusiasm for a new way of life. 
But even worse than this actual doubt, grounded in 
objective danger, is the world-wide anxiety that everywhere 
produces conformity and brain washed citizens. For it takes 


a certain basic confidence and hope to be able to be rebel- 
lious and hanker after radical innovations, As the historians 
point out, it is not when the affairs of society are at low ebb, 
but on the upturn and in the burst of revival that great 
revolutions occur. Now compare our decade since World 
War II with the decade after World War I. In both there 
was unheard of productivity and prosperity, a vast expan- 
sion in science and technique, a flood of international ex- 
change. But the decade of the 20's had also one supreme 
confidence, that there was never going to be another war; 
the victors sank their warships in the sea and every nation 
signed the Kellogg-Briand pact; and it was in that confi- 
dence that there flowered the Golden Age of avant-garde 
art, and many of the elegant and audacious community 
plans that we shall discuss in the following pages. Our 
decade, alas, has had the contrary confidence God grant 
that we are equally deluded and our avant-garde art and 
thought have been pretty desperate. 

The future is gloomy, and we offer you a book about the 
bright face of the future! It is because we have a stubborn 
faith in the following proposition: the chief, the underlying 
reason that people wage war is that they do not wage peace. 
How to wage peace? 

The Importance of 

Planning in Modem Thinking 

There is an important sense in which physical community 
planning as a major branch of thought belongs to modern 
times, to the past hundred years. In eveiy age there have 
been moral and cultural crises and social plans like the 
Republic and also physical plans to meet economic, eco- 
logical, or strategic needs. But formerly the physical plans 
were simply technical solutions: the physical motions and 
tangible objects of people were ready means to express 
whatever values they had; moral and cultural integration 
did not importantly depend on physical integration. In our 

Introduction 17 

times, however, every student of the subject complains, one 
way or another, that the existing physical plant is not ex- 
pressive of people's real values: it is "out of Human_ scale/' 
it is existentially "absurd," it is "paleo^technological." Put 
philosophically, there is a wrong relation between means 
and ends. The means~are too unwieldy for us, so our ends 
are confused, for impracticable ends are confused dreams. 
Whatever the causes, from the earliest plans of the modern 
kind, seeking to remedy the evils of nuisance factories and 
urban congestion, and up to the most recent plans for 
regional development and physical science fiction, we find 
always the insistence that reintegration of the physical plan 
is an essential part of political, cultural, and moral reintegra- 
tion. Most physical planners vastly overrate the importance 
of their subject; in social change it is not a primary motive. 
When people are personally happy it is astonishing how 
they make do with improbable means and when they are 
miserable the shiniest plant does not work for them. Never- 
theless, the plans discussed in this book will show, we think, 
that the subject is more important than urban renewal, or 
even than solving traffic jams. 


Finally, let us say something about the esthetic standpoint 
of this book. The authors are both artists and, in the end, 
beauty is our criterion, even for community planning, which 
is pretty close to the art of life itself. Our standpoint is given 
by the historical situation we have just discussed: the prob- 
lem for modem planners has been the disproportion of 
means and ends, and the beauty of community plan is the 
proportion of means and ends. 

Most of modern architecture and engineering has ad- 
vanced under the banner of functionalism, "form follows 
function." This formula of Louis Sullivan has been subject 
to two rather contrary interpretations. In Sullivan's original 
statement he seemed to mean not that the form grows from 


Constructiv-ist functionalism 

the function, but that it is appropriate to it, it is an interpre- 
tation of it; he says, "a store must look like a store, a bank 
must look like a bank." The formula aims at removing the 
ugliness of cultural dishonesty, snobbery, the shame of 
physical function. It is directly in the line of Ibsen, Zola, 
Dreiser. But it also affirms ideal forms, given by the sensi- 
bility of the culture or the imagination of the artist; and this 
is certainly how it was spectacularly applied by Sullivan's 
disciple, Frank Lloyd Wright, who found his shapes in 
America, in the prairie, and in his personal poetry. 

In a more radical interpretation e.g., of the Bauhaus 
the formula means that the form is given by the function: 
there is to be no addition to the arrangement of the utility, 
the thing is presented just as it works. In a sense, this is not 
an esthetic principle at all, for a machine simply working 
perfectly would not be noticed at all and therefore would 
not have beauty nor any other sensible satisfaction. But 
these theorists were convinced that the natural handling 
of materials and the rationalization of design for mass pro- 
duction must necessarily result in strong elementary and 
intellectual satisfactions^ simplicity, cleanliness, good sense, 
richness of texture. The bread-and-butter values of poor 

Introduction 19 

people who have been deprived, but know now what they 

Along this path of interpretation, the final step seemed to 
be constructivism, the theory that since the greatest and 
most striking impression of any structure is made by its basic 
materials and -the way they are put together, so the greatest 
formal effect is in the construction itself, in its clarity, inge- 
nuity, rationality, and proportion. This is a doctrine of pure 
esthetics, directly in the line of post-impressionism, cubism, 
and abstract art. In architecture and engineering it devel- 
oped from functionalism, but in theory and sometimes in 
practice it leaped to the opposite extreme of having no 
concern with utility whatever. Much constructivist architec- 
ture is best regarded primarily as vast abstract sculpture; 
the search of the artist is for new structural forms, arbitrarily, 
whatever the function. Often it wonderfully expresses the 
intoxication with new technology, how we can freely canti- 
lever anything, span any space. On the other hand, losing 
the use, it loses the intimate sensibility of daily life, it loses 
the human scale. 

We therefore, going back to Greek antiquity, propose a 
different line of interpretation altogether: form follows func- 
tion, but let us subject the function itself to a formal critique. 
Is the function good? Bona fide? Is it worthwhile? Is it 
worthy of a man to do that? What are the consequences? 
Is it compatible with other, basic, human functions? Is it 
a forthright or at least ingenious part of life? Does it make 
sense? Is it a beautiful function of a beautiful power? We 
have grown unused to asking such ethical questions of our 
machines, our streets, our cars, our towns. But nothing less 
will give us an esthetics for community planning, the pro- 
portioning of means and ends. For a community is not a 
construction, a bold Utopian model; its chief part is always 
people, busy or idle, en masse or a few at a time. And the 
problem of community planning is not like arranging people 
for a play or a ballet, for there are no outside spectators, 
there are only actors; nor are they actors of a scenario but 


agents of their own needs though it's a grand thing for us 
to be not altogether unconscious of forming a beautiful and 
elaborate city, by how we look and move. That's a proud 

What we want is style. Style, power and grace. These 
come only, burning, from need and flowing feeling; and 
that fire brought to focus by viable character and habits. 

This, then, is a book about the issues important in com- 
munity planning and the ideas suggested by the planners. 
Our aim is to clarify a confused subject, to heighten the 
present low level of thinking; it is not to propose concrete 
plans for construction in particular places. We are going to 
discuss many big schemes, including a few of our own 
invention; but our purpose is a philosophical one: to ask 
what is socially implied in any such scheme as a way of 
life, and how each plan expresses some tendency of modern 

The planner's ideal: 
fitting the man to the plan 

Introduction 21 

mankind. Naturally we too have an idea as to how we should 
like to live, but we are not going to try to sell it here. On 
the contrary! At present any plan will win our praise so long 
as it is really functional according to the criterion we have 
proposed: so long as it is aware of means and ends and is 
not, as a way of life, absurd. 

A great plan maintains an independent attitude toward 
both the means of production and the standard of living. It 
is selective of current technology because how men work 
and make things is crucial to how they live. And it is 
selective of the available goods and services, in quantity and 
quality, and in deciding which ones are plain foolishness. 

From the vast and curious literature of this subject during 
the past century, we have chosen a manual of great modern 
plans, and arranged them according to the following prin- 
ciple: What is the relationship between the arrangements 
for working and the arrangements for "living" (animal, 
domestic, avocational, and recreational) ? What is the rela- 
tion in the plan between production and consumption? This 
gives us a division into three classes: 

A. The Green Belt-Garden Cities and Satellite Towns; 
City neighborhoods and the Ville Radieuse; 

B. Industrial Plans the Plan for Moscow; the Lineal 
City; Dymaxion; 

C. Integrated Plans Broadacres and the Homestead; 
the Marxist regional plan and collective farming; 
the T.V.A. 

The first class, controlling the technology, concentrates 
on amenity of living; the second starts from arrangements 
for production and the use of technology; the third looks for 
some principle of symbiosis. It does not much matter 
whether we have chosen the most exciting or influential 
examplesthough we have chosen good ones for our aim 
is to bring out the principle of interrelation. Certainly we do 
not treat the plans in a way adequate to their merit, for they 
were put forth as practical or ideally practical schemes 


some of them were put into effect-whereas we are using 
them as examples for analysis. 

The questions we shall be asking are: What do these 
plans envisage about: 

Kind of technology? 

Attitude toward the technology? 

Relation of work and leisure? 

Domestic life? 

Education of children and adults? 


Political initiative? 

Economic institutions? 

Practical realization? 

By asking these questions of these modern plans, we can 
collect a large body of important issues and ideas for the 
inductions that we then draw in the second part of this 


A Manual of Modern Plans 

Difficulty of quarantining technology 


The Green Belt 

The original impulse to Garden City planning was the reac- 
tion against the ugly technology and depressed humanity 
of the old English factory areas. On the one hand, the fac- 
tory poured forth its smoke, blighted the countryside with 
its refuse, and sucked in labor at an early age. On the other, 
the homes were crowded among the chimneys as identical 
hives of labor power, and the people were parts of the 
machine, losing their dignity and sense of beauty. Some 
moralists, like Ruskin, Morris, and Wilde reacted so vio- 
lently against the causes that they were willing to scrap both 
the technology and the profit system; they laid their empha- 
sis on the beauty of domestic and social life, making for the 
most part a selection of pre-industrial values. Ruskin praised 



the handsome architecture of the Middle Ages, said things 
should not be made of iron, and campaigned for handsome 
tea cannisters. Morris designed furniture and textiles, 
improved typography, and dreamed of society without 
coercive law. Wilde (inspired also by Pater) tried to do 
something about clothing and politics and embarked on 
the so-called "esthetic adventure." What is significant is the 
effort to combine large-scale social protest with a new 
attitude toward small things. 

Less radically, Ebenezer Howard, the pioneer of the 
Garden City, thought of the alternative of quarantining the 
technology, but preserving both the profit system and the 
copiousness of mass products: he protected the homes and 
the non-technical culture behind a belt of green. This idea 
caught on and has been continually influential ever since. 
In all Garden City planning one can detect the purpose of 
safeguard, of defense; but by the same token, this is the 
school that has made valuable studies of minimum living 
standards, optimum density, right orientation for sunlight, 
space for playgrounds, the correct designing of primary 

Plans which in principle quarantine the technology start 
with the consumption products of industry and plan for 
the amenity and convenience of domestic life. Then, how- 
ever, by a reflex of their definition of what is intolerable 
and substandard, in domestic life, they plan for the conven- 
ience and amenity also of working conditions, and so they 
meet up with the stream of the labor movement. 

With the coming of the automobiles there was a second 
impulse to Garden City planning. To the original ugliness 
of coal was added the chaos of traffic congestion and traffic 
hazard. But there was offered also the opportunity to get 
away faster and farther. The result has been that, whereas 
for Howard the protected homes were near the factories 
and planned in conjunction with them, the entities that are 
now called Garden Cities are physically isolated from their 
industry and planned quite independently. We have the 

A Manual of Modern Plans 27 

interesting phenomena of commutation, highway culture, 
suburbanism, and exurbanism. 

The chief property of these plans, then, is the setting-up 
of a protective green belt, and the chief difference among 
the plans depends on how complex a unity of life is pro- 
vided off the main roads leading to the industrial or business 

We are now entering a stage of reflex also to this sec- 
ond impulse of suburbanism: not to flee from the center 
but to open it out, relieve its congestion, and bring the 
green belt into the city itself. This, considered on a grand 
scale, is the proposal of the Ville Radieuse of Le Corbusier. 
Considered more piecemeal, it employs the principle of 
enclosed traffic-free blocks and the revival of neighborhoods, 
as proposed by disciples of Le Corbusier, like Paul Wiener, 
or housers like Henry Wright. 

Suburban view 

From Suburbs to Garden Cities 

From the countryside, the scattered people crowd into 
cities and overcrowd them. There then begins a contrary 

Consider first the existing suburbs. These are unorganized 
settlements springing up on the main highway and parallel 
railway to the city. They take advantage of the cheaper land 
far from the center to build chiefly one-family houses with 
private yards. The productive and cultural activity of the 

adults and even adolescents is centered in the metropolis; it 
is only the children who belong strictly to the suburb as 
such. The principal civic services paving, light, water are 
directed by the city; and the land is surveyed according to 
the prevailing city plan, probably in a grid. The highway 
to the city is the largest street and contains the shops. 

Spaced throughout the grid are likely to be small develop- 
ments of private real estate men, attempting a more pic- 
turesque arrangement of the plots. But on the whole the 
pressure for profit is such that the plots become minimal 
and the endless rows of little boxes, or of larger boxes with 
picture windows, are pretty near the landscape of Dante's 
first volume. 

Such development is originally unplanned. It is best de- 
scribed in the phrase of Mackaye as "urban baekflow." The 
effect of it is, within a short time, to reach out toward the 
next small or large town and to create a still greater and 
more planless metropolitan area. This is tbe ameboid 
spreading that Patrick Geddes called conurbation. 

Culturally, the suburb is too city-bound to have any defi- 
nite character, but certain tendencies are fairly apparent 
caused partly by the physical facts and partly, no doubt, 
by the kind of persons who choose to be suburbanites. 
Families are isolated from the more diverse contacts of city 
culture, and they are atomized internally by the more fre- 
quent absence of the wage earner. On the otiher hand, there 
is a growth of neighborly contacts. Surburbanites are known 


Conurbation (after Geddes): 

1. Flow into the city 

2. Inflow continues, 
backflow to suburbs begins, 
slums grow in the center 

3. Backflow in full flood, 
slums turn to blight 

4. A sprawling mass with 

a great central blighted area 

as petty bourgeois in status and prejudice, and they have 
the petty bourgeois virtue of making a small private effort, 
with its responsibilities. There is increased dependency on 
the timetable and an organization of daily life probably 
tighter than in the city, but there is also the increased dig- 
nity of puttering in one's own house and maybe garden. 
(It has been said, however, that the majority dislike the 
gardening and keep up the lawn just to avoid unfavorable 
gossip.) There is no local political initiative, and in general 
politics there is a tendency to stand pat or retreat. 

When this suburban backflow is subjected to conscious 
planning, however, a definite character promptly emerges. 
Accepting such a tendency as desirable, the city makes po- 
litical and economic decisions to facilitate it by opening 
fast highways or rapid-transit systems from the center to the 
outskirts. An example is the way the New York region has 
been developed. The effect is to create blighted areas in 
the depopulated center, to accelerate conurbation at the 
periphery and rapidly depress the older suburbs, choking 
their traffic and destroying their green; but also to open out 
much further distances (an hour away on the new high- 
ways) where there is more space and more pretentious 
housing. This is quite strictly a middle-class development; 
for the highways draw heavily on the social wealth of every- 
body for the benefit of those who are better off, since the 
poor can afford neither the houses nor the automobiles. 

This matter is important and let us dwell on it a moment. 


A powerful Park Commissioner has made himself a vast 
national reputation by constructing many such escape-high- 
ways: they are landscaped and have gas-stations in quaint 
styles; this is "a man who gets things done." He has done 
our city of New York a disastrous disservice, in the inter- 
ests of a special class. Imagine if this expenditure had been 
more equitably divided to improve the center and make 
liveable neighborhoods, as was often suggested. The situa- 
tion in the New York region is especially unjust. Those who 
can afford to live in Nassau or Westchester Counties are able 
to avoid also the city sales and other taxes, although para- 
sitically they enjoy the city's culture; yet, having set up a 
good swimming pool across the city's northern border, the 
people of Westchester have indignantly banned its use to 
Negroes, Puerto Ricans, and other poor boys, since they 
made it "for their own people." The general outlook of these 
rich parkway-served counties is that of ignorant, smug 

A more rational inference from the suburban impulse is 
the idea of the Ciudad Lineal (after Soria y Mata), pro- 
posed as long ago as 1882 for the development of the out- 
skirts of Madrid. The Lineal City, continuous roadside 
development, is the planned adaptation of existing "ribbon 
development," the continuous dotting of habitations along 
any road. It avoids the high rent and congestion of the city, 
has easy access to the city, and it minimizes the invasion of 
the forest and countryside, which begin immediately be- 
yond the street off the highway. It is essentially a European 
invention, for this is in fact the form of the villages of Italy, 
France, Spain, or Ireland: row-housing on both sides of 
the highroad, and the peasants* fields out the back door 
(whereas the English and Americans have historically 
spread over the fields with detached houses). The chief 
importance of the Lineal City, however, is not residential 
but industrial; it is the simplest analysis of the always pres- 
ent and always major factor of transportation (see later, 
plan of the disurbanists, p. 71) a remarkable invention to 
have been made before the coming of the automobile. 


Street and lineal plan of Ciudad Lineal 
(after Soria y Mata) 


A modern proposal for a lineal city: Algiers, 1931 (Le Corbusier) 

The climactic development of the suburban impulse in 
the English or American style is the Garden City in the 
form in which it is now laid out. This is a unified residential 
community of a size "sufficient for a complete social life," 
with row as well as detached houses, but mainly detached 
houses with small gardens, and with its center off the high- 

Garden Cities 

The classic Garden City, Letch worth (architects: Parker 
and Unwin, after Howard) , is a place of light industry. But 
let us here speak rather of places completely dependent on 
commuting, e.g., Radburn (Stein), Welwyn (Unwin), or 
the New Deal Greenbelt, Greendale, etc. Radburn aims at 
a population of 25,000. After 35 years, Letchworth num- 
bered 17,000. 

A Manual of Modem Plans 


The following exposition is taken from the well-known 
book of Raymond Unwin, Town Planning in Practice ( 1907; 
rev. ed. 1932) . He is concerned throughout with residential 
convenience and amenity. On industry his first and last 
word is, "We shall need power to reserve suitable areas for 
factories, where they will have every convenience for their 
work and cause the minimum of nuisance/' One is struck 
by the expression "their work" rather than "our work." 

Amenity. It is by adding amenity to physical convenience, 
says Unwin, that we get a Garden City, This curious British 
term, variously applied by every English planner, and imi- 
tated by the Americans, means decency, charm of appear- 
ance and privacy. To Unwin its first implication is zoning: 
segregation from industry and business, and the restriction 
of density to "twelve families to the acre"; further, it im- 
plies planning with an esthetic purpose. 

Letchworth: the original Garden City 


He proceeds to formal and informal plans, a distinction 
borrowed from English gardening. He himself prefers the 
formal or T-square and compass plan, obviously thinking 
of the delightful squares and crescents of London. (Ameri- 
can designers, reacting to our undelightful gridirons, prefer 
ameboid shapes.) Next he speaks of problems of street- 
layout and the arrangement of public plazas. (American 
designers, faced with a heavy volume of through traffic, 
employ the cul-de-sac.) Next, the uniformity of materials 
for general effect. On this point, one is struck with the 
remembrance of the lovely uniformity of old French or Irish 
villages, a natural uniformity created by having to use 
local building materials; but in the Garden City we come 
to a situation of surplus means and planned uniformity to 
avoid chaos of the surplus. Next, Unwin cites the unity of 
design of the separate blocks of houses. 

Unwin devotes his last chapter to an idea of great value: 
neighborly cooperation. Planning, he says, is cooperative in 
its essence. It starts with the location of the necessities of 
the community as a whole its schools, shops, institutes. It 
modifies the individual or suburbanite taste to its plazas 
and prospects. It proposes the orientation and construction 
of houses. It suggests the summation of private gardens into 
orchards, and perhaps a common. By cooperation all can 
have "a share of the convenience of the rich ... if we can 
overcome the excessive prejudice which shuts up each 
family and all its domestic activities within the precincts of 
its own cottage." He asks for the common laundry and nur- 
sery, common library, common services. "More difficult is 
the question of the. common kitchen and dining hall." Indeed 
more difficult! For along this line of community commitment 
there opens up a new way of life altogether, with strong 
political consequences. 

Unwin's book is admirably reasoned and well written; but 
how are the suburbanites of the beginning to become the 
fellowship of the end? Given the usual private or govern- 
mental projectors, unity of planning means sameness, and 

A Manual of Modern Plans 


social landscaping means the restriction of children from 
climbing the trees like bad citizens. From the start he has 
isolated his community from the productive work of society. 
The initiative to cooperation does not rise from, nor reach 
toward, political initiative that always resides in the man- 
agement of production and distribution. How far would 
that cooperation get? 

What is the culture of Garden Cities? The community 
spirit belongs, evidently, to those who stay at home. As the 
suburb belongs to the children, here the community belongs 
to the children and some of the women. The women are 
neighborly; according to recent statistics, they spend ten 
hours a week playing cards and are active on committees. 
The men spend a good deal of the time on the prefabricated 
craftsmanship that we call "Do It Yourself." There is golf, 
for talking business or civil service. These are the topics of 
conversation because a lustier workman is not likely to 
divert so much of his time and income from the more 
thrilling excitements of the city, such as they are; and rather 
than live in a Garden City, an intellectual would rather 
meet a bear in the woods. 

-caesio veniam 
obvius leoni! 

A culture citij. Above: Munster Square, London, a town style. 
Below: regional plan according to Sharp's analysis 

Satellite Towns 

To meet some of these objections the English planners 
have invented Satellite Towns, in a serious effort to plan 
for a culture full-blown rather than a week-end somnoles- 
cence. To recover a true urbanism from the man-eating 
megalopolis; and also to rescue from suburbia the country- 
side and the woods. 

A Manual of Modern Plans 37 

It seems to have been this latter purpose the reaction 
to the fact that the spread-out Garden Cities encroach on 
the rural land that has led the more recent generation of 
English planners, for example Thomas Sharp, to dissent 
from Howard. Whereas neither Howard nor Unwin has 
anything to say about the country as such, Sharp in his 
Town Planning devotes as much space to the amenity of the 
country as to the amenity of the town. Perhaps this reflects 
the great problem of an England stripped of its empire and 
needing to become more agriculturally self-sufficient. 

(In America we have had the fine work of Mackaye, the 
creator of the Appalachian Trail. He is concerned to pre- 
serve the aboriginal woods as the vivifier of city life. Sharp 
too has a chapter on national parks for hikers and campers. ) 

Satellite towns are thought of as having a population of 
100,000, where even Letchworth with its mills has less 
than 20,000. The "complete social life" of the Garden City 
is not a cultural life at all, for high culture is a defining 
property of cities. (A vast industrial concentration is not 
a city either, of course. ) 

More than any other plan the Satellite Town depends on 
belts of green, for the green must hem in not only the 
industrial center but also town from town, to protect the 
urban unity of each; and finally it must protect even the 
unity of the countryside. 

A satellite town, then, is a true city economically depend- 
ent on a center and therefore on its highway, but laid out 
as if integral and self-sufficient. The ideal of the layout is 
taken directly from the squares and crescents of Christopher 
Wren and the Brothers Adam. The style proposed by Sharp 
is the "various monotony" of an eighteenth-century block, 
each of whose doorways and fan-windows is studied, the 
symbol that a man's home, not his house, is his castle. 
Country houses, too, have urban dignity, and the fields have 
humane hedgerows. 


At its worst the culture of such a place would be exclusive 
and genteel, but at its best it would be the culture of little 
theaters. Now little theater is not amateurish, not the lawn 
pageant that belongs to the complete social life of Garden 
Cities; nor is it prefabricated "Do It Yourself"; nor again, 
of course, is it professional (and standardized) entertain- 
ment for broad masses. It is devoted to objective art, the 
use of the best modern means, and it cultivates its partici- 
pants. Primary education would be progressive and inde- 
pendent, and higher education would teach the best that 
has been thought and said and study "monuments of its 
own magnificence," The countryside demonstrates how man 
can humanize nature and is a source of decent, not canned, 
food; and the national park revives us with the forthright 
causality of the woods. All conspires to the spiritual unity 
of the soul and the cultural unity of mankind (it is essential 
to the idea to mingle the economic classes) all except the 
underlying work and techniques of society on which every- 
thing depends not only economically but in every big 
political decision and in the style of every object of use: 
these have no representation. 

We are here in the full tide of cultural schizophrenia. 
When the suburbanite or Garden Citizen returns from the 
industrial center, it is with a physical release and a reawak- 
ening of cowering sensibilities. But the culture-townsman 
has raised his alienation to the level of a principle. What 
reintegration does he offer? The culture-townsman declares 
that we must distinguish ends and means, where industry 
is the means but town life is the end. Trained in his town 
to know what he is about, the young man can then turn 
to the proper ordering of society. In America this was fairly 
explicitly the program of Robert Hutchins. The only bother 
is that one cannot distinguish ends and means in this way 
and the attempt to do so emasculates the ends. Under these 
conditions, art is cultivated but no works of art can be made; 
science is studied but no new propositions are advanced; 
and living is central but there is no social invention. (But to 

A Manual of Modern Plans 39 

be just, do we see any other communities that guarantee 
these excellent things?) 

The form in which, at present, this plan is partly realized 
is the college campus and its neighborhood. It is a plan not 
for the children and women, but for the ephebes of both 
sexes and all ages. For the adults it is a conception appro- 
priate to endowed rather than current wealth, and suspi- 
cious of change. 

The Evolution of Streets from Village to City 

We can tell the story of the inflow and backflow of a 
metropolitan population simply as a history of streets. 

Starting new on Manhattan, in a territory from their point 
of view undeveloped, the Dutch first built a little town 

New Amsterdam, 


dependent on its own agriculture and on the commerce in 
furs. Their square faced on the dock, it was the place of the 
overseas market, of the imported government, and soon of 
the community church and school. People lived on small 

As the commerce grew and attracted greater numbers, the 
original farms were subdivided for simple residence, and 
the farmers, more ambitious because their products were 
in demand both abroad and at home, took possession of 
great domains throughout the island and northward. They 
now found that the territory had already been somewhat 
laid out by the aborigines, and they made use of the main 
Indian trail, which to the Indians had run in the opposite 
direction toward their capital at Dobbs Ferry. (The way 
facing toward Europe was not so obviously downtown for 
the Indians.) And it is striking how many features of the 
aboriginal layout, topologically determined, persist in the 
modern city, though the topology itself has been much 
changed. The original lanes and highways of the Indians 
and the patroon proprietors formed the basis of some of 
the avenues of later days. 

Very early some of the larger domains were subdivided 
and occupied as villages of the growing town. The first 
such was New Haarlem. 

Finally, after the vicissitudes of the English occupation 
and the American Revolution, it was clear that none of the 
thriving commercial island would remain farm land, it 
would all be subdivided for commerce, manufacture, and 
residence. In 1807 almost the whole area was surveyed as 
a gridiron, that lay across the aboriginal paths and the 
early lanes and roads, unable to alter either the stronger 
topological features or the areas already built up, but 
dominating the future. 

The rectangles of 1807 were subdivided by real estate 
speculators into the lots and back alleys of 1907. 

But when the subdivision was complete, began the back- 
flow to the outskirts. Under the domination of the center, 
these outskirts were surveyed in large rectangles and sold 


Village of New Haarlem, 1670,, overbid by 1811 gridiron 

in small lots, for instance on Long Island. But since the 
impulse to suburban settlement is partly to escape the fea- 
tureless and anonymous network, at least some of the rec- 
tangles have been arranged into "developments" with an 
artificial topology. This brings us back to the composite plan 
of 1807. 

Let the impulse to escape continue, and a Garden City is 
laid out, off the main highway, deliberately demolishing the 
gridiron. It is a place of small gardens; the features of the 
topology again begin to appear; we are back to New Haar- 
lem, except that the small gardens are not really small 

Lastly, in the ideal of a culture town, perhaps somewhere 
in Westchester or in Madison Avenue Connecticut, we re- 
turn to the integrated town of 1640, built around its plaza. 
This plaza has perhaps a church, and perhaps a school, but 
no overseas market and no provincial governor. No farmers. 
No Indians. 

And the plan after the last-is the city without streets. 
With the advent of the helicopter, this apparently anomal- 
ous conception will no doubt come to exist it has already 
been suggested by Fuller and others. 

Tfee Weckquaesgeck Trail in Manhattan (Broadway) 

Another Version of the Same 

Another way of looking at the same history of streets is 
to consider the steady growth of the old Weckquaesgeck 
Trail to become the Albany Post Road, then Broadway, 
then Route 9, and then the great Thruway. 

The change to the Thruway is remarkable. For the first 
time the topological features are disregarded, and so, for 
the most part, are the settlements of population that are 
apparently served by the road. Instead, on these great 
superhighways we see developed a unique culture, with its 
own colors and eating habits, and a kind of extraterritorial 
law. Citizens of the Thruway, that stretches from coast to 
coast, must Go! Go! Not too fast and not too slow. Above all 
they must not stop. There are also new entities in pathology, 
such as driver's instep and falling asleep at the wheel. 

Ville Radieuse 

Let us now consider the contrary direction of green belt 
planning: to invade the center with green and set up Gar- 
den Cities in the megalopolis itself. Such a conception 
involves, of course, immense demolition, it is a surgical 
operation. And naturally, for such a "cartesian" solution, 
we must turn to the Ville Radieuse of Le Corbusier, a 

A Manual of Modern Plans 43 

Frenchman (he is even a Swiss!) . For Paris is the only vast 
city with beauty imposed on her; and Baron Hausmann 
long ago showed that you must knock down a great deal to 
get a great result. 

"To de-congest the centers-to augment their density- 
to increase the means of getting about-to increase the parks 
and open spaces": these are the principles of the Ville 
Radieuse. The plan is extremely simple and elegant: either 
demolish the existing chaos or start afresh on a new site; 
lay out in levels highways and tramways radiating from 
the center; on these erect a few towering skyscrapers every 
400 meters at the subway stations; and ring this new 
opened-out center with large apartment houses for resi- 
dences, a Cite Jardin, the French kind of Garden City. In- 
dustry will be quarantined somewhere "on the outskirts." 
(To Paris, Le Corbusier applied this scheme as the Voisin 
Plan; in the plan for Algiers, he replaced the residential 
rings by lineal cities.) 

Similar solutions, one fudged practical, one impractical: 1. Radio 
City in New York 2. Le Corbusier's Voisin project for Paris 


This is a prince of plans. It is a typical flower of the 
twenties, of the Paris International Style. Its daring prac- 
ticality seems to rejoice in the high capitalism of the "cap- 
tains of industry," as Le Corbusier calls them, whose 
technology and financial resources can accomplish anything. 
We can see its shapes in Rio and Caracas and, grotesquely 
misapplied, in New York's Radio City. 

In the central skyscrapers, says the author, are housed 
the brains and eyes of society. Wherever industry may be 
located "on the outskirts," its financial, technical, and po- 
litical control is in these few towers. Ville Radieuse is a 
paper city; its activity is the motion of draftsmen, typists, 
accountants, and meetings of the board. Carried on in an 
atmosphere of conditioned air, corrected light, and bright 
decor, by electrical communications, with efficiency and 
speed. "The city that can achieve speed will achieve success. 
Work is today more intense and earned on at a quicker 
rate. The whole question becomes one of daily intercom- 
munication with a view to settling the state of the market 
laid the condition of labor. The more rapid the intercom- 
munication, the more will business be expedited." Had 
this ever before been so succinctly stated? The passage was 
written by an architect before the coming of the giant 
computers and before we had learned to use the magic 
words "cybernetics" and "feedback." 

Leaving the diffused center, we come to the rings of 
residence. The inner rings are commodious apartments for 
the wealthy, innermost like the first tiers at the opera. The 
outer rings are super-blocks of housing for the average, who 
travel either inward to the skyscrapers or outward, past the 
agricultural belt, to the factories. 

The residences, great or small, are machines a vivre, ma- 
chines for living, just as the skyscrapers are machines for 
communications and exchange, and the streets are machines 
for traffic. The plan extends inside the walls of the houses 
to the fittings and furniture. (Contrast this with the English 
Garden City planners who do not invade these private pre- 

Residential zone, business center at left (after Le Corbusier) 

cincts.) The unit of living is the cell (cellule), standard in 
construction and layout and arranged for mass servicing. 
Its furniture, too, is standardized, so that it doesn't matter 
in which cell a person lives, "for labor will shift about as 
needed and must be ready to move, bag and baggage." The 
standards are analyzed, however, not only for efficiency but 
for beauty and amenity-though, in this gipsy economy, 
domestic amenity is not the fundamental consideration. An 
outside room or "hanging garden" is provided in the smallest 
flat. It is a Cite Jar din: the ratio of empty space is large, 
and there are fields for outdoor sports right at the doorstep, 
if one had a doorstep. 

"There must never come a time," says our author omi- 
nously, "when people can be bored in our city ... In general 
we feel free in our own cell, and reality teaches us that the 
grouping of cells attacks our freedom, so we dream of a 
detached house. But it is possible, by a logical ordering of 
these cells, to attain freedom through order/' 

Being standard, every part is capable of mass production. 
In the English plans, even where the aim was urban uni- 
formity, this was not thought of as mass produced. The 
manner of construction, like the ideal of small cooperatives, 
was proper to craft unions. But Le Corbusier, planning for 


the captains of industry, has only contempt for the mason 
who "bangs away with feet and hammer." 

Esthetic interest is given by the variety of the grand 
divisions, seen at large and in long views, the skyscrapers 
towering on the horizon above the dwellings. "The de- 
termining factor in our feelings is the silhouette against the 
sky." And we can take advantage of the grand social divi- 
sions of rich and poor to give the variety of the sumptuous 
apartments with their set-back teeth ( ! the word is redents) 
as against the rectangles of the workers' blocks. 

The esthetic ideal is the geometric ordering of space, in 
prisms, straight lines, circles. It is the Beaux Arts' ideal of 
the symmetrical plan. The basis of beautiful order is the 
modulus, whose combinations are countable, so that we 
should have to simulate mass production even if technical 
efficiency did not demand it. Space is treated as an undif- 
ferentiated whole to be structured: we must avoid topologi- 
cal particularity and build always on a level. (If the site is 
not level, make a platform on pilotis.) The profile against 
the sky is the chief ordering of space and the prime deter- 
minant of feeling. Space flows inside and outside the build- 
ings; we must use a lot of glass and lay the construction 
bare. And to insure the clarity and salience of the construc- 
tion it is best to emphasize a single material, reinforced 
concrete, and it is even advisable to paint over the surfaces 
in a single color. 

What shall we make of this? In this International Style 
of Le Corbusier, Gropius, Oud, Neutra, Mies van der 
Rohe there are principles that are imperishable: the anal- 
ysis of functions, clarity of construction, emphasis on the 
plan, simplicity of surfaces, reliance on proportion, broad 
social outlook (whatever the kind of social outlook). It is 
the best of the Beaux Arts* tradition revivified and made 
profound by the politics and sociology of all the years since 
the fall of Louis XVI. 

Yet in this version of Le Corbusier, the Ville Radieuse was 
the perfecting of a status quo, 1925, that as an ideal has al- 

School (Gwpius) 

Home (Le Corlmsier] 

Exhibition Building (Mies van der Robe) 


ready perished it died with the great Depression though 
as a boring and cumbersome fact it is still coming into be- 
ing: society as an Organization. Le Corbusier was a poor 
social critic and a bad prophet. He gets an esthetic effect 
from a distinction of classes and a spectacular expression of 
this distinction just when the wealthy class was about to 
assume a protective camouflage, and indeed just when it 
was plunging into the same popular movie-culture as every- 
body else and ceased to stand for anything at all. The brains 
and eyes of society he calls "captains of industry/' but their 
function was to study the market and exploit labor; they 
were financiers. It was to these captains that he patheti- 
cally turned for the realization of his plan; he proposed that 
international capital invest in the rebuilding of Paris the 
increase in land values would give them a quick profit 
"and," he exclaimed, "this will stave off the war, because 
who would bomb the property in which he has an invest- 
ment?" As it turned out, the unreconstructed Paris was not 

His attitude toward technology is profoundly contradic- 
tory. Superficially, the Ville Radieuse makes use of the most 
advanced means; even the home is a machine. But he sug- 
gests nothing but the rationalization of existing means for 
greater profits in an arena of competition, saying, "The city 
that can achieve speed will achieve success." His aim is 
neither to increase productivity as an economist, nor, by 
studying the machines and their processes as a technologist, 
to improve them. Contrast his attitude with that of a 
technological planner like Buckminster Fuller, who finds in 
the machinery, for better or worse, a new code of values. 
Fuller is looking ahead of the technology to new inventions 
and new patterns of life; Le Corbusier is committed, by 
perfecting a status quo, to a maximum of inflexibility. 

Caught in this Organization, what is the plight of the 
average man in the Ville Radieuse? The Garden Cities, we 
saw, were based on the humane intuition that work in which 
people have the satisfaction neither of direction nor crafts- 

A Manual of Modern Plans 49 

manship, but merely of wages, is essentially unbearable; 
the worker is eager to be let loose and go far away, he must 
be protected by a green belt. (There are surveys that show 
that people do not want to live conveniently near their 
jobs! ) Le Corbusier imagines, on the contrary, that by the 
negative device of removing bad physical conditions, peo- 
ple can be brought to a positive enthusiasm for their jobs. 
He is haunted by the thought of the likelihood of boredom, 
but he puts his faith in freedom through order. The order 
is apparent; what is the content of the freedom? Apart 
from a pecular emphasis on athletic sports and their superi- 
ority to calisthenics ( ! ) , this planner has nothing, but noth- 
ing, to say about education, sexuality, entertainment, festi- 
vals, politics. Meantime, his citizens are to behold every- 
where, in the hugest and clearest expression in reinforced 
concrete and glass, the fact that their orderly freedom will 
last forever. It has 500 foot prisms in profile against the sky. 
Le Corbusier wages a furious polemic against Camillo 
Sitte, author of Der Stadtebau, who is obviously his bad 
conscience. He makes Sitte appear as the champion of pic- 
turesque scenery and winding roads. But in fact the noble 
little book of the scholarly Austrian is a theory of plazas, of 
city-squares; it attempts to answer the question, What is an 
urban esthetic? For in the end, the great machine of the 
Ville Radieuse, with all its construct! vist beauty, is not a 
city at all. 

City Squares 

A city is made by the social congregation of people, for 
business and pleasure and ceremony, different from shop 
or office or private affairs at home. A person is a citizen in 
the street. A city street is not, as Le Corbusier thinks, a 
machine for traffic to pass through but a square for people 
to remain within. Without such squares markets, cathedral 
places, political forums planned more or less as inclosures, 
there is no city. This is what Sitte is saying. The city esthetic 



Center of town, 
Cuernavaca, Mexico 

is the beauty proper to being in or entering such a square; 
it consists in the right choice and disposition of structures 
in and around the square, and in the relation of the squares 
to one another. This was the Greek, medieval, or Renais- 
sance fact of city lif e. A Greek, if free and male, was a city 
man, not a family man or an Organization man; he spent 
his time on the street, in the law court, at the market. 

It is possible that this urban beauty is a thing of the past. 
Perhaps there are no longer real occasions for social congre- 
gation in the square. The larger transactions of business 
occur at a distance by "communication," not face to face. 
Politics is by press, radio, and ballot. Social pleasure is 
housed in theaters and dance halls. If this is so, it is a 
grievous and irreparable loss. There is no substitute for 
the spontaneous social conflux whose atoms unite, precisely, 
as citizens of the city. If it is so, our city crowds are doomed 
to be lonely crowds, bored crowds, humanly uncultured 

Urban beauty does not require trees and parks. Classically, 
as Christopher Tunnard has pointed out, if the cities were 
small there were no trees. The urban use of trees is formal, 
like the use of water in fountains; it is to line a street or 

A Manual of Modern Plans 


square, to make a cool spot, or a promenade like the mi- 
raculous Stephen's Green in Dublin. The Bois in Paris is a 
kind of picnic-ground for the Parisians, it is not a green 
belt. But when we come to the park systems of London, 
New York, or Chicago we already have proper green belts 
whose aim is to prevent a conurbation that would be stifling. 
(The effect in London and Chicago, of course, is that those 
cities stretch on and on and it is hard to get from one district 
to another.) And when finally, as in the Ville Radieuse, 
the aim is to make a city in the park, a Garden City, one 
has despaired of city life altogether. 

Again, the urban beauty is a beauty of walking; and per- 
haps it has no place in the age of automobiles and airplanes. 
This raises the crucial question of standpoint, the point of 
view, in modern architectural esthetics. Again and again 
Le Corbusier proves that a place is ugly by showing us the 
view of the worm-heap from an airplane. Yet then, even the 
Piazza San Marco or the Piazza dei Signori, in Florence, 
which he cannot help but admire, merge indistinguishably 

The Piazzetta, Venice 


into the worm-heap. Indeed, from a moving airplane even 
the Ville Radieuse or New York aflame in the night lasts 
only a few minutes. 

If the means of locomotion is walking, the devices de- 
scribed by Sitte inclosure of streets, placing of a statue- 
can have a powerful architectural effect. If the means is 
the automobile, there is still place for architectural beauty, 
but it will reside mainly in the banking of roads, the land- 
scaping, and the profile on the horizon. When our point of 
view -is the airplane, however, the resources of architecture 
are helpless; nothing can impress us but the towering Alps, 
the towering clouds, or the shoreline of the sea. 

The problem, the choice of the means of locomotion, is 
an important one. For not only Le Corbusier, who has a 
penchant for the grandiose, but also his opposite number 
in so many respects, Frank Lloyd Wright, who stays with 
the human scale both plan fundamentally for the automo- 
bile. Wright's Broadacres, we shall see, is no more a city 
than the Ville Radieuse. On the other hand, there are those 
who cannot forget the vision of Sitte and want to revive the 
city. Their ideal for the vast metropolis is not a grand profile 
against the sky but the reconstitution of neighborhoods, of 
real cities in the metropolis where people go on their own 
feet and meet face to face in a square. 


With the city squares of Sitte and the conception of 
neighborhoods as sub-cities, we return full circle from the 
suburban flight. Seduced by the monumental capitals of 
Europe, Sitte himself loses his vision and begins to talk 
about ornamental plazas at the ends of driveways; but the 
natural development of his thought would be community 
centers of unified neighborhoods within the urban mass, 
squares on which open industry, residence, politics, and 
humanities. (We attempt such an idea in Scheme II below, 
p. 162.) 

Point of view: in the piazza, on the highway, from the air 

An existing tendency in this direction is the community 
block, planned first as a super-block protected from arterial 
traffic, as in the Cite Jardin, but soon assuming also neigh- 
borly and community functions, analogous to the neighborly 
cooperation described by Unwin as the essence of the Gar- 
den City. Sometimes this development has led in America 
(as famously in Vienna) to a political banding together of 
the block residents, making them a thorn in the side of the 

The community-block is now standard practice for all 
modern urban planners in all countries; but unfortunately, 
in this planning the emphasis is entirely on housing, and 
there are experts in applied sociology called "housers." 
"Housing" is the reductio ad absurdum of isolated planning. 
There have been cases of "housing" for workers in new fac- 
tories where no provision was made for stores in which to 
buy food. There was a case where there was no road to the 
industry they worked at. Stuyvesant Town, in New York 
City, was built to house 8500 families without provision 


for a primary school. (This wretched plan, financed by a big 
insurance company with handsome tax relief from the city, 
was foisted on the city by the Commissioner against the 
indignant protests of a crashing majority of the city's archi- 
tects. There it stands. ) In better cases, the block is planned 
with a school and shops but not in connection with the trade 
or industry. The cooperative housing just now being con- 
structed by the clothing workers* union in New York, how- 
ever, is adjacent to the garment center. 

The planning of housing in isolation from the total plan 
has, of course, been caused by scarcity, slums, war-emer- 
gency; and such reform housing has had the good side of 
setting minimal standards of cubic footage, density of cover- 
age, orientation, fireproofing, plumbing, privacy, controlled 
rental. The bad side is that the standards are often petty 
bourgeois. They pretend to be sociologically or even medi- 
cally scientific, but they are drawn rather closely from the 
American Standard of Living. The available money is al- 
ways spent on central heating, elaborate plumbing, and 
refrigerators rather than on more space or variety of plan 
or balconies. And the standards are sociological abstractions 
without any great imaginative sympathy as to what makes 
a good place to live in for the people who actually live 
there. They are hopelessly uniform. But where is the uni- 
formity of social valuation that is expressed in the astonish- 
ing uniformity of the plans of Housing Authorities? They 
are not the values of the tenants who come from substandard 
dwellings from which they resent being moved; they are 
not the values of the housers, whose homes, e.g., in Green- 
wich Village, are also usually technically substandard (save 
when they live in Larchmont). Housers do not inhabit 
"housing." Nor is it the case that these uniform projects are 
cheaper to build. The explanation is simply laziness, dull- 
ness of invention, timidity of doing something different. 

To connect Housing and slum clearance is also a dubious 
social policy. Cleared areas might be better zoned for non- 
family housing or not for housing altogether; to decide, 

A Manual of Modern Plans 


it is necessary to have a Master Plan. More important, it 
is disastrous to set up as a principle the concentration of 
distinct income-groups in great community-blocks. Suppose, 
for example, the entire emergency need of New York City 
after World War II, 500,000 units, had been met in this 
way; then every fifth block in the city would be marked as 
a tight class ghetto. To be sure such concentration presently 
exists, whether in slum areas or in fashionable neighbor- 
hoods; but it is worse to fix it as an official policy. 

Ideally, the community block is a powerful social force. 
Starting from being neighbors, meeting on the street, and 
sharing community domestic services (laundry, nursery 
school), the residents become conscious of their common 
interests. In Scandinavia they start further along, with 
cooperative stores and cooperative management. Where 
there is a sense of neighborhood, proposals are initiated for 
the local good; and this can come to the immensely desirable 
result of a political unit intermediary between the families 

The "Project" 


and the faceless civic authority, a neighborhood perhaps the 
size of an election district. (This is what the PTA should 
be, and is not) Such face-to-face agencies, exerting their 
influence for schools, zoning, play-streets, a sensible solution 
for problems of transit and traffic, would soon make an end 
of isolated plans for "housing." 

But if the consciousness of a housing plan remains in 
the civic authority alone, then the super-block may achieve 
minimal standards and keep out through traffic, but more 
importantly it will serve, as we saw in the Cite Jardin of Le 
Corbusier, as a means of imposing even more strongly the 
undesirable values of the megalopolis. 


Industrial Plans 

These are plans for the efficiency of production, treating 
domestic amenity and personal values as useful for that 
end, either technically or socially. They are first proposed 
for underdeveloped regions, whereas green belt planning 
is aimed to remedy the conditions of overcapitalization. 
Most simply we can think of a new industry in a virgin 
territory Venezuela, Alaska where a community can be 
laid out centering in a technical plant, an oilfield, a mine, 
or a factory, with housing and civic services for those who 
man the works. 

Yet every use of men is also a moral plan; if it seems not 
to" be, that itself is morally problematic. So we choose for 
an example the early nineteenth century New England 
mill town of Lowell, as a beautiful case of industrial com- 
munity planning under ideal conditions in the first flush 
of capitalism, self-conscious as a moral enterprise. And it 
is the more interesting because it tries to avoid the very 
abuses of English capitalism that led to Garden Cities. 

Another kind of underdevopment that leads to emphasis 
on production belongs to old but industrially backward 
countries that want to overtake the advanced, either to vie 
with them as world powers or to avoid colonial exploitation. 
Such was Russia, such are India and China. In these cases 
the emphasis is likely to be on heavy industry and the pro- 
duction of machine-tools, rather than on manufacture of 
goods for a market or the extraction of raw material for 
export. The product is poured back into the industry and 
the machinery, maintaining consumption goods and ameni- 
ties near the lowest bearable point. Such a program can- 
not help but produce grave political and moral problems, 



especially among those (for instance the peasants with their 
traditional ways) who do not immediately appreciate the 
results for which they are obliged to make sacrifices. There- 
fore, very striking features of the program will have political 
rather than merely technical purposes. We have chosen to 
discuss here three plans of the U.S.S.R. because of the dra- 
matic and classical conflict of the technological and political 
factors in Russia from 1925 to 1935. The recent spectacular 
effort of China follows in logical order. 

But the moral-technical motivation for a kind of industrial 
planning springs up in a different context altogether, pre- 
cisely in the most advanced and overdeveloped technologies 
with a vast economic and technological surplus. This is 
technocracy. It is the cultural emergence of engineers' val- 
ues against traditional humanist or business values, as so 
ably championed by Veblen. In contrast to the achieve- 
ments of science and engineering, the ordinary standards, 
expressed in the system of consumption and especially of 
amenity, seem irrational, a mere cultural lag. Then it is felt 
that by social devotion to efficiency we can liquidate the 
cultural lag. But the only thing that can be efficiently 
planned is production and the physical parts of life most 
like machine products. This emphasis on efficiency is apart 
from profit, which is seen to be systematically inefficient, 
and also apart from reinvestment, for there is no need for 
more capital; nor is it to increase the supply of goods and 
raise the standard of living, but to change the standard of 
living. The primary cultural satisfaction becomes invention; 
and the social virtues are, even more than efficiency, in- 
ventiveness and adaptability. Society is in process, it looks 
ever to the future. Ideally, there is a permanent transition. 

But most people would say that the final use of any in- 
vention is consumption; to them the ideals of a technological 
planner like Buckminster Fuller (Dymaxion) seem even 
comically spiritual and austere. Yet this is a social, not 
necessarily a moral, contradiction of Veblen's theory, when 
once there is a surplus: efficient technology generates more 

A Manual of Modern Plans 


goods and leisure and, at the same time, discourages the 
attitudes of consumption and waste. Some people then be- 
gin to take satisfaction in the organization of production 
itself; but others, we see, when they feel that nothing is 
necessary to be done, begin to kill time and decline to do 

A Capitalist Mill Town 

The idea of a paternalistic company town, an industry 
and its entrepreneur providing the housing and community 
of its workers, goes back at least to Robert Owen's New 
Lanark (c. 1800), and is as contemporary as Olivetti's 
Ivrea in Italy. Owen's aim was to remedy a sick society and 
restore morale, and he looked forward, as Olivetti also seems 

Part of Lowell, Mass., circa 1852 (after J. Coolidge) 


to, to a kind of cooperative socialism. The expanding capi- 
talism and individualism of the nineteenth century exploded 
Owen's rectangles; the Owenite communist experiment at 
New Harmony lasted only three years (1825-1828). But 
it is against this background of idealism that we must under- 
stand Francis Cabot Lowell's capitalist project for a textile 
town that eventuated, after his death, in the town of Lowell, 
Massachusetts (1823). Power-spinning had been intro- 
duced in the previous decades, and in 1814 Lowell had 
set up the first successful power-loom in Waltham. It was 
the industry of these machines, protected by the first tariff in 
1816, that supported the immensely profitable new com- 
munity on the Merrimack River. 

The story of the founding, the two successful decades, 
and the decline of the ideal community at Lowell is told 
in J. P. Coolidge's Mill and Mansion. This book is beyond 
praise as a social study, a critique of achitecture, and anal- 
ysis of community planning, so that it is here our grateful 
task simply to summarize some of its contents. 

Francis Lowell's plan was as follows: to find a river with 
a rapids and dig a canal leading around it; on this island 
to build the mills of the associated entrepreneurs, and 
across the canal the housing for the several classes of opera- 
tives and management; then a main road, with shops, public 
buildings, and parks; and beyond the road, unplanned land 
for the bourgeoisie investors, traders, non-industrial towns- 
people. Lowell, Massachusetts, is in fact zoned in this way 
(though the symmetry had to be sacrificed to the topog- 

The housing proved to require five classes, distinct in 
location and style, and from these we can at once read off 
the social plan: 

1. Corporation executives: a tight little oligarchy in 
their private mansions. 

2. Skilled workers: junior executives, foremen, English 
craftsmen to do the printing of the textiles. Housing 
for families in row tenements. 

A Manual of Modern Plans 61 

3. Unskilled operatives of the mill: these are the heart 
of the scheme; they are farm girls from the sur- 
rounding regions, housed in small dormitories in 
large boarding houses under strict moral and reli- 
gious supervision. (As a French observer said, "Low- 
ell resembles a Spanish town with its convents, but 
in Lowell you meet no rags or Madonnas, and the 
nuns of Lowell, instead of working sacred hearts, 
spin and weave cotton.") 

4. Day-laborers, mainly Irish, to dig the canals and lay 
the bricks. Housed in makeshift huts. 

5. Across the road, hotels and miscellaneous dwellings 
for the watchful investors, commercial travelers, 
lawyers, ministers, speculators, and shopkeepers. 

This was in the heyday of expanding capitalism. The 
paternalism resided in an impersonal corporation and the 
laws of the market, not in a man like Owen; yet the investors 
were not rentiers, for they were watchful and sometimes 
intervened. Nor were the young women operatives merely a 
proletariat, trapped from the cradle to the grave, for they 
had independent purposes: they were saving for marriage, 
supporting parents, keeping a brother or fiance in school; 
savings accounts were considerable; most of the women 
remained only three or four years, yet there were always 
replacements, for the conditions were satisfactory. Work was 
sunrise to sunset, but the food and social environment were 
good. ( In his American Notes the astonished Dickens saw 
that the girls had joint-stock pianos in their boarding houses, 
and that they put out a literary magazine! They also wore 
attractive clothes.) Also, this manufacture was in the total 
framework of an expanding capitalist technology and econ- 
omy: one of the first railroads in the county was run to 
Lowell and the legislators in Washington, had laid a protec- 
tive tariff against European cloth. Many new processes and 
machines were first invented at these New England mills. 
Some, e.g., Amoskeag, made their own bricks (and still in 
New England those red or orange factories stand there, 
severe but not unlovely). 


It was the theory of Adam Smith: many individual wills, 
great and small, freely cooperating in a vast plan, because 
it is the nature of economic man. (It is just such a situation 
that Prince Kropotkin shrewdly points to as an argument 
for anarchismthe example he uses is the railroad-network 
of Europe laid down and run to perfection with no plan 
imposed from above.) 

In reading about Lowell, one is profoundly struck by the 
importance of ideological pressure to keep people moving 
in the plan, not otherwise than now in China. Strict morality 
and religion kept things on schedule. The girls were scrupu- 
lously honest, no need to check up on their accounts. Sexu- 
ality was taboo, family life at a distance back on the farm 
or in Ireland a goal to work for. The girls were literary, 
were lectured by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and wrote inspira- 
tional or romantic nature poetry; but theater was discour- 
aged, architecture plain indeed, and we can be sure those 
pianos played few dance tunes. Indeed, the ideology some- 
times wins out over the economy, as when the Corporation 
vetoed the expense for schools, but the church won out and 
built them. The democratic and puritanic mass agitated for 
Temperance, Anti-Slavery, and even, though the companies 
forbid, the Ten-Hour Day. There was rudimentary organiza- 
tion of labor and, in 1836, a strike. The architecture too 
everywhere proved the integration of the ideological and 
industrial plan: buildings were "functional" in the sense that 
they were what people of the time considered "appropriate" 
(we are reminded of Sullivan's "a church must look like a 
church"); we must not then hope for new style or beauty, 
but the excellence consists in the communal integrity. 

So Lowell existed for twenty years as planned. (Dickens 
visited in 1842.) But it is not necessary to ask critical ques- 
tions about this Utopian capitalist plan, for history asked 
and answered the questions. When steam power became 
readily available because the railroads could haul coal, the 
water-mills had to compete. They then cut wages and the 
fringe benefits that made Lowell plausible as a community. 

A Manual of Modern Plans 63 

They could not compete, there was unemployment; and add 
the business cycle endemic in the system. Boarding houses 
ceased to get their subventions, the standard of living fell. 
Corporation land was speculated away and the zoning was 
broken. Meantime, as conditions deteriorated and the grow- 
ing town offered other possibilities, the skilled workers, 
restive at the restrictions, moved away on their own. The 
huts of the Irish and the French-Canadians degenerated into 
slums. New England farmers were going west; the girls be- 
gan to be foreign-born, and the boarding house system, that 
had been cheerful and harmonious when the girls came 
from like background and culture, now became untenable. 
Top management itself, which in the first generation con- 
sisted of entrepreneurs, succumbed to nepotism and petty 
tyranny. These causes exacerbated one another, and, in 
brief, the New England capitalist idealism that had started 
with the resolve not to repeat the conditions of the English 
factory-system, succumbed to the chaos of mature nine- 
teenth-century capitalism. Lowell became a third-rate com- 
pany town. 

Moscow, 1935 

Let us leap forward a century, and to a country where the 
old capitalism had never matured, but a kind of socialist 
system was struggling to find its forms. 

The debates prior to the Russian Second Five-Year Plan 
brought forth four important community proposals, ac- 
cepted or rejected: 

1. The political-industrial concentration at Moscow; 

2. The "left deviation" of the functionalists; 

3. The plan of the Disurbanists; 

4. The "elimination of the difference between city and 

Of these, the first three are essentially transitional indus- 
trial plans aimed at increasing productivity, and belong in 

Proposal for Red Square: proletarian "modern" (I930's) 

this chapter. The fourth plan is more integral; it was a com- 
munity idea proposed by Marx and Engels for advanced 
countries, and we shall discuss it later (p. 96 ) . 

The planning of Moscow became a problem of the Rus- 
sian economic program after the first Five-Year Plan. By 
this time a major change had occurred in the city. In 1914 
it had been a place of predominantly light industry (75%); 
by 1932 it had become a place of heavy industry (53%). 
These industries, metallurgy and electricity, were increas- 
ingly concentrated and vast. Population had increased by 
73% and the total industry by 200%. Yet community serv- 
ices had increased only 50%. (In America, too, of course, 
"public services" have fallen far behind the expanding econ- 
omy; but the increase of "services" in general has out- 
stripped the increase in production and consumption 

This development naturally caused an outcry on the part 
of consumers and residents. This was the so-called "right 
deviation" and was soon stifled, for "otherwise," in the 
words of Kaganovich, the commissar of transport, "it would 
be useless to hope for the consolidation of the dictatorship 
of the proletariat and the up-building of socialism." Equat- 
ing, that is, the emphasis on heavy industry, the upbuilding 
of socialism, and the First Five-Year Plan. 

A Manual of Modern Plans 65 

With the Second Plan, however, the country was "enter- 
ing into socialism/* and this was the time to plan, on the 
basis of heavy industry, for communities of work and resi- 
dence. The "left deviation," we shall see, denied that the 
first period had yet passed, and planned accordingly. In 
general, the right held that socialism was established in 
1917-22, the center in 1927-32, the left that it was not 
yet begun. The factual political question, as to who is right 
and what kind of socialism is implied, is, fortunately, beyond 
the scope of this book. 

We may compare the plan for Moscow with the New York 
Regional Plan of nearly the same time. Both develop an 
existing concentration of industry and residence, attempt 
to relieve congestion, and to limit future expansion: Moscow 
from 3% to 5 million, the New York metropolitan area from 
12 to 21 million. But the differences are salient. One is 
struck by the initial willingness of the Russians to debate 
quite fundamental changes, and their decision to make a 
city of a definite kind; whereas New York still does not 
have a Master Plan, though it has a Planning Commission. 
Moscow was to be a place of heavy industry and proletarian 
politics and culture, a symbolic capital of the Union. This 
political industrial amalgam is the key to understanding 
the plan. 

The following main proposals were rejected: To extend 
the Moscow area enormously, to surround the center with 
a green belt and construct residential satellites (plan de- 
vised by May). This was called, in their rhetoric, a rightist 
counter-revolutionary attempt to weaken the city by sep- 
arating the proletariat from the technology both physically 
and ideologically. Its affiliation with the rightism of light 
industry and consumption goods is plain, for it is really a 
* Garden City plan aimed at amenity. 

On the other hand, they rejected the contention of dis- 
urbanists and functionalists that all large cities were a 
bourgeois hangover, not socialist but state-capitalist; that 
the period of transition to socialism required, not improving 


old Moscow, but every sacrifice for industrial efficiency, 
even ribbon-development and residential barracks; and that 
the future socialist culture belonged ultimately to commun- 
ity blocks and their communes, without metropolitan fea- 
tures. (We shall consider these points on their merits in the 
next section.) These arguments were branded as subtly 
counter-revolutionary: either petty bourgeois or an attempt 
to damage the morale of worker and peasant. Large cities 
were, it was said, technologically necessary for the "con- 
centration of capital," and, to quote a curious enthymeme 
of Kaganovich, "Since Moscow and Leningrad played a 
major part in the revolution and have won the adherence of 
the peasant masses, any effort to reduce the large cities is 
nonsense not worth serious attention." 

This last argument is political, but the apparently eco- 
nomic argument about the concentration of capital is also 
really political, for the technological accumulation of capital 
rarely requires concentration in one area. The meaning is 
rather what Marx calls the "centralization of capital" in a 
few hands for ownership and control (Capital, i, xxv) . 

Still another rejected proposal was the Ville Radieuse of 
Le Corbusier: to leave old Moscow as a museum city and 
build on a new site. This was (mildly) called unhistorical; 
it disrupted community feeling, and was anyway Utopian, 
beyond their means. A more moderate proposal, to relocate 
the existent scattered factories, was also called impossible, 
though under stress of the war far greater changes were 
soon made. 

Instead of all these we have a plan for Moscow ( 1 ) As a 
capital of the dictatorship of the proletariat as a regime of 
heavy industry passing ideally, not yet actually, into social- 
ism; and (2) To be a political and cultural symbol for the 
nation, especially the peasants. Let us see what this means 
in various aspects. 

The subway. With the enormous expansion of population 
and industry, there was a fabulous shortage of transporta- 
tion and housing. The radical remedy proposed for transit 

A Manual of Modern Plans 67 

was the subway, though this was opposed by both leftists 
and disurbanists as "an anti-social form of transportation." 
But the government made of its construction a remarkable 
labor of social devotion and solidarity; masses took part in 
the unskilled labor; the stations were elaborately decorated 
as a source of social pride; and the finished product became 
a byword among the peasants who cherished the opinion 
that it was the only subway in the world. To be sure it can- 
not solve the transit problem; the population limit of 5 mil- 
lion does not hold; there will be flight from the center and 
perhaps blight, as everywhere else. The technically work- 
able solution would be to break up the industrial concentra- 
tion and to separate at least the political and industrial con- 
centrations; but these were just what was to be avoided. 

Palace and Housing. Instead of at once pouring all avail- 
able nonindustrial energy into the relief of the housing 
shortage (4^ sq. meters per person in 1935), the plan 
marked immense sums for enlarging and ennobling the 
government buildings, climaxing in the Palace of the Soviets, 
the most ambitious political structure in the world. (Luckily 
for the history of esthetics, this expression of the withering 
away of the State has not eventuated. ) And even the future 
housing envisaged for the end of the ten-year period was 
below American minimum standards, but identical with 
British standards. The kind of housing is urban-industrial, 
large apartment houses. The country beyond the green belt 
is for vacationists. 

The method of building is neither the mass-production 
proposed for the Ville Radieuse, nor yet the meticulous 
trade-union building of the Garden City; but it is the ration- 
alized labor of Stakhanovism, drawing on the social enthusi- 
asm and personal concern of each worker competing, the 
combination of transitional technology with symbolic so- 

Co-operatives and Democratic Centralism. In the residen- 
tial districts, existent and proposed, it was decided to dis- 
band the larger unities of 15 to 20 apartment houses, on the 


Proposed Palace 
of the Soviets (1930's) 

grounds that they were inefficient and bureaucratic. Instead, 
each house, managed by its tenants, is responsible to the city 
administration, the Moscow Soviet, through a system of 
sectional units, determined from above, with which to lodge 
complaints and suggestions. This is the end of the relatively 
autonomous community -block of which we spoke above. 
Correspondingly, the important social services of restau- 
rants and schools would be developed by Mossoviet, though 
the nurseries remain, apparently, under the unit houses. 
That is, in general responsible control comes from above, 
but facility for discussion is provided below. This is the pol- 
icy of the Democratic Centralism of the dictatorship of the 

Consider a case. It is hardly likely that the free, organized 
consumer, the autonomous community -block, would unani- 
mously propose the construction of the Palace (or the sub- 
way) in lieu of new housing; yet with the patriotism sprung 
from the fact that it is his own socialism he is building, a 
man might readily approve the plan handed down. This is 
the neat and awkward adjustment on which the Moscow 
plan is based. 

"Capitalist" architecture: 
N. y. (1925) 

University of Moscow 
(circa 19S9) 


Small industry and local control. On the other hand, a 
valid distinction of wide applicability now first appeared in 
the plan: heavy industry is controlled by the central com- 
missariats; but small industries, especially of consumption 
goods and local town services (except for Moscow) are bid- 
den to operate on their own initiative through local Sovi- 
ets. "The Supreme Council of National Economy cannot 
occupy itself with door-catches." 

Obviously, during the technical transition, the small in- 
dustries would find it hard to get labor and material; by 
1935 local industry accounted for only 10% of the total 
production (J. Jewkes). But conceive this principle oper- 
ating in an advanced surplus technology. Then, precisely 
those goods and amenities which are most subject to per- 
sonal choice would be freed from the vast economy of pro- 
duction and distributionthey could be locally styled and 
even hand-made; whereas the production goods, which are 
more like means and less like ends, could be nationally 
planned and machine-analyzed. 

Esthetics, The analysis we have been advancing explains 
the style of the Palace and the general cultural tone of the 
second Five-Year Plan. It is a political rather than an inte- 
grated social esthetics. The style is half baroque dreams 
remembered from czarism and half imitations of American 
capitalist cities. It is an attempt to evoke social solidarity 
through pride and grandeur; while the fundamental indus- 
trialization is expressed only by showing workers in over- 
alls, it has no esthetic expression. Yet many of the designs 
are as ugly as can be, and it is hard to believe that they 
are the only possible popular appeal no taste is that vulgar- 
ized. (To give a fair analogy: it is hard to believe that our 
TV programs are the only possible popular ones for no- 
body is that idiotic. ) 

During the Ws, the U.S.S.R. had welcomed the van- 
guard of art, for instance the International Style in architec- 
ture (imported often without a just analysis of different 
technical resources, so that materials and construction were 

A Manual of Modern Plans 


specified which the Russians could not provide, and fine 
plans made bad buildings) . In cinema, Russia led the world. 
Then came a calamitous regression, in architecture, in 
cinema, in literature, in music. And the same in every social 
field. The sexual revolution came to an ignominous end. 
Progressive education was dropped. There followed (cer- 
tainly partly in anticipation of the war) a solidifying of 
forces around national symbols, the reemergence of ancient 
patriotic themes and reactionary sentiments. 

Since the war, the Russian art that we have experienced 
the musicians, the theater, the dancing, the paintinghas 
been academic enough to chill your bones. It is puzzling 
how so much skill can be so abused. 

Disurbanists and Functionalists 

The scheme of the disurbanists, rejected in the Moscow 
debates, is an excellent adaptation of Garden City planning 
to the situation of a technological transition for increased 
productivity. "The urban concentration," they said, "is state- 
capitalist," and they proposed instead a lineal city laid out 

Diagram of Soviet lineal city: 5-6 km. long btj 2-3 km. wide; 
50,000 inhabitants 










Stalingrad, 1940 a. Wood industry; 
b. Metallurgy- c. Machine building; 

d. Airfield 6- park of culture and rest; 

e. Rest homes; f. Lumber mills; 

g. Lumber mills; h. Chemical plant, 
power station; i. Ship building 

along the routes of transportation of heavy industry. Indus- 
try and residence spread in strips along highways, railroads, 
and rivers, in immediate contact with the countryside, A 
green belt separates industry and residence. There is then 
an enormous economy in services, such as roads or local 
transit; and also an interpenetration of the rural and indus- 
trial. What is sacrificed of the classical Garden City, of 
course, is the attempt to make a unified center of culture 
and residence. 

This plan was rejected as petty bourgeois: that is, it was 
taken as an offshoot of the separatist suburban tendency. In 
some ways, however, it seems to be the plan of Stalingrad 

The "leftist" functionalists, on the other hand, empha- 
sized the emergency of the transition period, claiming as 
was indeed generally admitted and proved to be the case- 
that the technical emergency was the prelude to a military 
emergency. They accordingly planned for a military com- 
munity, camp and barracks. This took the form (as devised 

A Manual of Modern Plans 


by Sabsovich) of huge barracks for residence, each house ac- 
commodating two to three thousand, without private kitch- 
ens, laundries, or apartments. There were no family rooms 
and no general rooms, but every worker had a small separate 
room, as at a Y.M.C.A. Likewise, the public appearance 
of the community was strictly functional; the streets were 
machines for traffic; the houses turned inward away from 
them. (Notice that under other circumstances, these same 
devices would be considered amenities.) Obviously this pro- 
posal was exactly contrary to the sentimental strengthening 
of morale that was essential in the plan for Moscow. 

Both disurbanists and functionalists advanced ideas also 
looking toward the socialist society, after the transition. The 
disurbanists argued that in socialism there would be an even 
spread of population throughout the country, bringing the 
city to the peasants. The leftists argued that in socialism 
the manner of residence would be in democratic centers not 
subordinate to the city gridiron, that is, in community- 


Twenty years later, in the effort to industrialize China, 
we find that it is precisely the two rejected plans of disurban- 
ists and functionalists that have become the guiding prin- 

Calligraphs (reading from left): 
Small tackle only things 
within your ability. 
Earthnative land, use native 
ingenuity. Group community 
action as opposed to individual 


ciples. As happened in Moscow, the Chinese Communists 
first built up several vast urban concentrations of heavy 
industry; but now it is held that the right method is (1) 
To industrialize without urbanizing: that is, to decentralize 
as much as possible, spreading small-scale modern technol- 
ogy among the peasants; and (2) To organize all the mil- 
lions of China along military lines, with barracks-life and 
canteen meals, to "work as if fighting a battle, live the col- 
lective way." 

The official analysis of the situation is somewhat as fol- 
lows: China, unlike Russia, was hardly industrialized to be- 
gin with. She must start from scratch but therefore, also, 
need not repeat the urban forms that are outmoded. What 
China does have, however, is man power, and this, used in 
socially cooperative units, can transform the country in 
short order. (The optimum size of a commune is considered 
to be 5000, which happens to be also a common American 
optimum figure for a neighborhood.) Great reliance is 
placed on social enthusiasm the Chinese, it is said, are 
governed not by men and not by laws, but by movements. 
They hope to wipe out illiteracy in a year and change to 
the commune system in five days! But even if this program 
were not inherently desirable, it would be necessary, be- 
cause there is a war-emergency, the threat of returning 
colonialism. The general slogan is, "A few years of hard life, 
a thousand years of happiness." 

The scheme proposes a maximum of regimentation and 
absorption into the social effort, destroying family and indi- 
viduality. In Shanghai, we are told, no one may have a 
private teakettle, he must take his tea with the others. And 
the odd insistence on twice-daily public calisthenics for 
everybody certainly sounds like the morale-building (or 
morale-breaking) techniques of the American armed forces. 
We must remember, though, that Chinese farmers, in their 
old "extended families" of 50 to 100, were not individual- 
istic to start with. And it is salutary for us to think of the 
startling comparison between the puritanical total regula- 

A Manual of Modern Plans 75 

tion of these communes and Lowell, Massachusetts, 1823. 
(The difference, of course, is that, blackballed at Lowell, 
one could go elsewhere; whereas ostracized from a com- 
mune one might as well commit suicide. ) 

Positively valuable is the store set on small enterprise in 
'advanced technology, making do with local resources, na- 
tive ingenuity. For whether or not such effort is more effi- 
cient in the long run (and that is by no means decided), 
there is no doubt that it is more humanly satisfactory. The 
pathos is that the "advanced technology" is probably al- 
ready pretty outmoded. 

Here again, as in the previous industrial plans of this 
chapter, there is an astonishing emphasis on ideology 
through slogans, symbolic pictures, and street parades with 
drum and cymbals to announce a new high in production. 
"We must conquer the Gobi desert, and be first of the oil 
wells in China." "We hope that as pen-pushers we will be as 
effective as you with your shovels/* People pledge to take 
no vacation till the quota is attained. They are intensely 
ashamed to be photographed by a Westerner in their age- 
old poverty, which they are sure he is doing as counter- 
propaganda (Cartier-Bresson). The motto of 1958, "Still 
bigger, still better, more quickly, more frugally,** does not 
quite square with the ideal of small local enterprises the 
social optimum of 5000 is soon abandoned for reasons of 
production; but consistency is not a necessary virtue of 

Yet even apart from rhetoric, they seem to have a religious 
faith in education and science. Each commune must main- 
tain a "university" (technology and Marxist classics are the 
subjects) the money reserved for it may not be used to buy 
a needed tractor. Continuing the movement of 1919, the 
ancient writing, from right to left, up and down, is reformed 
to the Western way in order to admit chemical and mathe- 
matical formulae and the Arabic numerals. A farm coopera- 
tive will have, as well as a happy home for the aged and 
centers for agricultural machinery and transport, a "science 



research laboratory" and a laboratory for researching "the 
transformation of body wastes into electrical power." "The 
baptism of work and study will make a transformation of 
the country culturally, and the individual's transformation 
through work." The perfect great pilot commune is named 
Sputnik after the man-made moon. 

Dymaxions and Geodesies, 1929-1959 

If we now turn to technological planning in an advanced 
countiy, like the United States, we find that it implies a 
radically new analysis of living standards and values. "The 
designer," says Buckminster Fuller, "must provide new and 
advanced standards of living for all people of the world . . . 
Implicit is man's emancipation from indebtedness to all else 
but intellect." It is noteworthy that for Fuller, unlike many 

Marine Corps transports Geodesic dome (1950) 


A Manual of Modern Plans 77 

so-called "technocrats" and of course unlike the planners 
of backward countries we have been discussingthe prob- 
lem transcends national boundaries and is worldwide. Ful- 
ler also is the modern planner who lays most stress on air 
travel, and modern man's extraordinary mobility. The key- 
concept of planning turns out to be logistics, how to move 
masses from place to place, and how to lighten the masses 
to be moved. 

In 1929 Fuller believed his Structural Study Associates 
to be the appropriate organ for the new architecture. 
Twenty years later, with increasing public success and ( one 
presumes) increasing loneliness, he speaks of the Compre- 
hensive Designer, a term, like Wright's Universal Architect, 
that used to be attributed to the deity. "The Comprehensive 
Designer is preoccupied with anticipation of all men's needs 
by translation of the ever-latest inventory of their poten- 
tials." The designer is the "integral of the sum of the product 
of all specializations." 

In general, Fuller's plans amalgamate technical, ethical, 
and metaphysical principles. Thus, mass production is the 
new phase of Christianity where all men are again brothers. 
The obstacle to happiness is the clinging to material, espe- 
cially landed, property; progress consists in "ephemeraliza- 
tion," dematerializing, and impermanence or process of 
experience and control. The handling of steel in tension, or 
of geodesic struts, is our progress from the "darkness of 
complete and awful weight to eternal light which has no 
weight." Architectural service is a corporate and anonymous 
devotion to scientific analysis "after the manner of the Ford 
planning department"; or it is logistical analysis that could 
be run on a computer, presumably like the Rand Corpora- 

But the fundamental element of the plan, the invention on 
which Fuller rests, is the individual isolated shelter, the 
Dymaxion house. Fuller believes that it was only to diminish 
drudgery by mass services that men congested in cities, but 
such conveniences can be better built into a mass-produced 



house as into an automobile. Mankind will then disperse. 
The house must be lightweight and without foundations, to 
be picked up (in 1930 by dirigibles) and dropped any- 
where. Or, in the style of Le Corbusier's thinking, it makes 
no difference where the man moves, since the dwellings are 
machines indifferently the same everywhere. The Dymaxion 
house is "free as a ship of public utilities, sewerage, water, 
and other systems of the political hangnail variety." It 
achieves its independence, for instance from electric power, 
partly by means of machines that have not yet been in- 

The house is suspended from a central mast, using the 
superior tensile strength of steel; it is hexagonal, so its mem- 
bers can be triangulated. Its weight per cubic foot is one- 
fifth that of the ordinary dwelling. It can be assembled from 
its parts in 24 hours, as well as carried through the air en 
bloc. It is designed for a specific longevity and is then to be 
turned in for an improved model. It thus involves the mini- 
mum of commitment to site and tradition. It is a machine 
for realizing what Fuller calls the "Eternal Now." But al- 
though it is a machine, it seems to be conceived on the model 

First Dymaxion house (1929), proposed as a "minimum" 

Geodesic dome at Trade Fair, Afghanistan (1956) 

of a man, for its organic machinery sim-machine, Diesel 
engine, septic tank, etc. is contained in the central mast, 
since happy life is planned from inside out. (The "geodesic 
dome" a shelter based on a system of tetrahedrons can 
be used for "a theater, civic center, bank, tank-car repair 

Conversely, the mechanics of the human body are 
analyzed into automotive functions, "nerve shock-proofing," 
"fueling," "muscular nerve and cellular realignment" 
(equals sleeping), "refusing" (equals elimination) . With 
this analysis Fuller persistently attacks the kind of psycho- 
analysis that gives to the organic functions a rather different 

A "town plan"-e.g., for Grand Rapids, Mich. (1956)- 
is a "geodesic environment control," and is grounded in the 
proposition that "man's minor ecological pattern" (meaning 
the immediate space he lives and moves in, as a tree in the 
ground) "must now be made to serve his major ecological 
patterning" (in an air-borne worldwide technology). "This 
ecological concept abandons customary classification of 
man's housing functions as 'urban/ 'suburban,* 'farm,* Vaca- 
tion resort/ or 'camp/" So a typical town plan of Fuller 
shows the land mass of the earth distributed around the 
North Pole. Location is determined by the great circles, the 
prevalent winds for transport and the isotherms of the tem- 
perate zone for residence. Only the temperate zone, believes 
Fuller, produces free civilization; subtropical peoples are 
doomed to "semi-fascism." (It is remarkable how techno- 
crats, unlearned in the humanities, gravitate to thinking of 


either this kind or of somatic morphology.) Topographical 
features, like other landed property, are of little account. In 
general, there is "centralization of mental activity, decen- 
tralization of physical activity (personal, communal, indus- 
trial)." A kind of industrial center exists at the cross of the 
figure-eight of the world winds, at Chicago. The "tactical 
center" is on the Spanish Riviera a lovely climate, but isn't 
it a little lazy? 

All this was to be financed, in the thirties which had a 
good deal of talk of monetary reform, by "time-energy in- 
dustrial credits. With automatic minimum existence credits 
selectively contractable . . . based on foot-pounds per hour 
of physical effort, with time-study credits for labor-saving 
contributions of individual activity . . . plus sex-segregated 
maintenance of antisocial laggards." This economy is "in- 
tegrally germane to the successful establishment of the 
Shelter Reproduction Industry: 7 * that is, a combination of 
the specie of the technocrats (1932) with the credit system 
of Social Credit Later, Fuller adds to these a system of 
mass speculation in industrial securities, betting on ten-cent 
shares in machines at the corner drug store, if there were 
a comer. 

Politics Fuller liquidates as a system of bullying in which 
by monopoly control of city services and patents, a small 
group has the whip hand over the rest. "Universal Archi- 
tecture is the scientific antidote for war/* 

There is also a Dymaxion esthetics and psychology. The 
psychology is behaviorism, grounded in the primary aver- 
sions to noise and falling. Values are analyzed as follows: 
previous plastic art was bound to space and the past time of 
tradition; the new essence of design is time-control. The 
esthetic standard, mass-producible, is the group ideal, and 
this ideal is the progression toward "material unselfcon- 
sciousness/' The aim of life is to release the "residuary 
mental or time-consciousness, eliminating the fallacial auto- 
suggestive phenomena of past and future, to the infinity of 
delight of the Eternal Now/' But isn't it pathetic how this 

A Manual of Modern Plans 81 

philosopher has to do such a song and dance to reach the 
ideal that a Taoist or Zen Buddhist aims at by just the oppo- 
site means, of sitting in your skin and breathing softly. Think 
Western! there must be a harder way to do it. 

The Christianity envisaged here is close to what Benjamin 
Nelson has called the "Universal Otherhood," the brothers 
are all equal by being equally isolated from one another 
and from God. There is nothing said about the ordinary 
communal activities of political initiative or non-scientific 
communication; even sex seems to have no social side. (And 
Fuller seems strangely unfamiliar with the actual psychol- 
ogy of the great innovators in science and art.) But how 
much of this is the climax of the solitude of commercial and 
industrial captains and how much is the final cowering of 
the little man from bullies who have disrupted his little 
peace, it is not necessary to inquire. 

What standards of personal and social satisfaction do in 
fact spring from an advanced technical attitude? 

The classical answer is Veblen's: a moral attitude com- 
posed of craftsmanship and the knowledge of the causes of 
things, without a taste for luxury consumption and gam- 
bling. Neither Fuller nor any other major planner gives this 
answer, which we therefore try to develop independently 
below (Chapter 6). 

Instead, Fuller makes a sharp distinction between three 
groups: universal architects, common laborers, and con- 
sumers. To the first group he assigns the Veblenesque vir- 
tues: self-effacement, service, efficiency, openness to change. 
The mass labor of industry does not have this unifying 
spirit, its worth is measured in foot-pounds of effort, a 
curious standard in modern technology where the energy 
of human beings ranks far below coal, oil, waterfalls, and 
beasts of burden we are suddenly back to China. The 
exercise of labor is rationalized by experts into "therblig" 
units of elementary muscular contractions. 

Fuller's theory of consumption is introduced by the 
following telling analysis: "In the early days of the motor 


car it was not only a common affair but a necessary one 
that the owner be as familiar with the lingo of the carbu- 
retor as the manufacturer . . . Since these days, industrial 
progress has developed what may be termed 'consumer's 
delight/ progressively less technical, and less self-conscious, 
control of the mechanical composition produced by indus- 
try ... There has developed an extraordinary multiplicity, 
of selecting and refining details, behind the scenes." This 
is a remarkable expression of the Hollywood paradise of 
ease, all doors opening by photoelectricity. This is the "in- 
finity of delight of the Eternal Now," the satisfaction of 
life apart from work of the hands, nature of the place, 
clash of opinion, continuity of the self with its past or the 
ego with the id. Meantime, however, the "unselfconscious" 
(equals progressively ignorant) consumer is in fact more 
and more controlled by his environment. Its reason and di- 
rection is no business of his. Yet Fuller protests that the 
monopoly of the city \vater supply is a bond of slavery! It is 
to be feared that the politics of this unpolitical scheme is 
simply a wishful control of everybody else by the self-effac- 
ing Universal Architects or Comprehensive Designers. To 
the masses, however, is given the precisely Unveblenesque 
mania of gambling on the financial future of one or another 
set of Structural Study Associates. 

The Size of Factories 

We concluded the previous chapter with a critique of 
housing planned in isolation from the total community. Let 
us here say something about the other side of the medal, 
the isolated planning of factories by industrial engineers 
rather than community architects. Such planning is an out- 
standing example of the social waste in neglecting the prin- 
ciple of minimizing whatever is neither production nor 

Especially during the last war, the size of plants, sheds, 
factory areas, and the number of workers at the plants grew 
steadily. With the concentration of capital uniting under 

A Manual of Modern Plans 83 

one control not only the different producers of a com- 
modity but also the production of allied parts, appliances, 
and by-products there went on also the physical concentra- 
tion of production in vast centers. At Willow Run a single 
shed covered a span of two-thirds by one-fourth of a mile. 
Glenn Martin Middle River had 3 million square feet of 
floor space. A layout at Simonds Saw and Steel had eight 
parallel assembly lines. Often, 50,000 workers were em- 

Now, apart from land costs, it is generally assumed that 
such concentration is technically efficient. It unifies the 
source of power, it brings together raw materials, parts, and 
assembly, it saves on servicing the buildings. But this uni- 
versal and obvious assumption is probably false; it fails to 
consider the chief social expense in all large-scale produc- 
tion, labor time. 

It is almost always cheaper to transport material than 

If the plant is concentrated, the bulk of workers must live 
away and commute. If the plant were scattered, the work- 
ers could live near their jobs, and it is the processed ma- 
terials that would have to be collected for assembly from 
their several places of manufacture. (We are not here 
speaking of primary metallurgy and refining.) The living 
men must be transported twice daily; the material and 
mechanical parts at much longer intervals. 

Which transport is easier to schedule? The time of Me of 
a piece of steel is not consumed while it waits for its truck: 
a piece of steel has no feelings. Supply trucks move at a 
convenient hour, but the fleet of trains and busses congest 
traffic at 89 a.m. and at 45 p.m. If the men travel by auto, 
there is mass parking, with one shift leaving while another 
is arriving, and the factory area must be still larger to allow 
for the parking space. After one gets to this area, he must 
walk to the work station: it is not unusual for this round 
trip to take three-quarters of an hour. During part of this 
shirting, the machinery stands still. 

To be sure, most of this consumption of time and nervous 


energy is not paid for, and the roads and franchises that 
make commutation possible are part of the social inheri- 
tance. But from the point of view of social wealth, the 
expense must be counted in, even though it does not tech- 
nically appear in the price. The worker's time is bound and 
useless, even though unpaid. If parts of this expense, of time 
and effort, were made to appear as an item on the payroll, 
as in the portal-to-portal demands of the mine workers, 
there would soon be better planning. 

What is the alleged technical economy of concentration? 
The first great reason for large factories was steam power- 
to a lesser extent, water power the need to keep the fur- 
naces going and to use the power to its fullest extent. When 
manufacturing is increasingly powered by electricity, this 
cause no longer exists. Second, belt-line assembly is a cause 
of a certain amount of concentration; but this requires a 
large area, not a huge area. On the contrary, the overall 
effect of belt-line analysis should be to decrease rather than 
increase the average total area, for the parts are not tailored 
to the product as it takes shape, but are prefabricated and 
therefore could be made elsewhere. What is the great ad- 
vantage in parallel assembly lines? Except in the unusual 
case of maximum production on three shifts a day, the heat- 
ing and servicing of a huge single shed is less economical 
than an arrangement of smaller sheds. 

The fact is, of course, thatespecially during emergen- 
ciesthe planning is far worse than anything so far indi- 
cated. Not only is the large area planned without thought 
of the domestic community, but the plan is regarded solely 
as a problem in engineering, without thought of a labor 
supply. The integration of the factory with society consists 
in locating the area on a highway (built by town funds), 
whether or not there are housing, schools, etc. at the other 
end of the highway. 

Such is the situation as of this writing, wherever labor 
time is the chief factor in production: to plan the separation 

A Manual of Modern flans 85 

of the factory area and the domestic community is techni- 
cally inefficient, and the huge factor) 7 area is socially un- 
economical. (To the extent, and wherever, factories become 
automatic, the conclusion does not follow, for the chief 
expense is then in the automatic machines, which do not 
commute. Nor does it follow in the extractive and metallur- 
gical industries, where the raw materials and the parts are 
very bulky, or the site is determined by nature.) 

Regional plan 
of human body 



Integrated Plans 

But let us now turn to some noble schemes that try to avoid 
Isolated planning; they are plans for the "whole man". We 
saw that green belt plans were a reaction to an ugly tech- 
nology and industrial plans were a reaction to poverty and 
colonialism; but integrated plans also are a reaction to the 
loss of well-rounded humanity in modern civilized life, not 
otherwise than Stoics and Epicureans reacted against the 
follies of the city and Rousseau rebelled against the vices of 
the court. By and large, in the last hundred years, it is the 
loss of country life that bothers the planners. People begin 
to speak of "farming as a way of life." In Sweden, it has long 
been a social policy to preserve the urban-rural ratio as it 
was in 1800, for social stability and many-sided human 


A Manual of Modern Plans 7 

development. Marx and Engels looked forward to a future, 
after the maximum of concentration of capital, when there 
would be an elimination of the difference between city and 
village, liquidating both "rural idiocy" and the "craft idiocy" 
of technicians. American regionalists often hark back to 
ante-bellum conditions that allowed for manners and liter- 

The integration of farm and industry is also an answer to 
immediate scarcity and emergency. A simple example is the 
spinning campaign of the Indian National Congress: to 
ease the poverty of the peasants by the income of spinning- 
wheels (incidentally getting rid of the British) . The Chinese, 
we saw, aim at heavy industrialization without urbaniza- 
tion. But let us quote also the following recommendations 
of our National Resources Planning Board, published in 
the depths of the depression (1934): "The integration of 
agricultural and industrial employment by the establish- 
ment of homes for workers employed in non-agricultural 
occupations, where they may produce part of their living, 
to become a permanent national policy; and that this policy 
be broadened to include: Encouraging the location of in- 
dustries in rural areas now seriously deficient in sources of 
income . . . Encouraging the location of industries on the 
peripheries of large cities in definite relation to rapid transit 
facilities to the countryside." 

In advanced technologies, one direction of integration- 
bringing industry to the farm is now commonplace as co- 
operative or collective farming and the application of ma- 
chines to diversified farming (which can indeed go to the 
extreme of assembly-line farming, hydroponics, incubations, 
etc., that could just as well be carried on in the city). The 
excess of this tendency, however, simply turns agriculture 
into another industry without the cultural values of the city, 
as in the vast Russian or Chinese state-farms, or in our own 
one-crop agriculture, whether in the great fruit plantations 
or in making plastics from soybeans. 

The opposite direction of integration, bringing the farrn 


values to the city, is in advanced countries a profoundly 
radical proposition. The values attached to "farming as a 
way of life" are relative self-sufficiency, escape from the 
cash nexus, direct control of necessities, practical attach- 
ment to family, home, site, and natural conditions, as cele- 
brated by Borsodi and others. Sentimentally, this tendency 
leads to "exurbanism/* which we have discussed above as 
a kind of social schizophrenia. But taken seriously, it leads 
at once to the thorny path of founding Utopian communities. 
Finally, with the bringing together of the country and 
city we enter on regional planning, a complex in which 
the layout of towns, or even their existence or non-existence, 
is only one factor among many. It is usually agreed that 
every integrated plan is a regional plan. The unity of a 
region for integrated planning is found either in resources 
of land and climate and raw materials and power apt for 
technical development, or in concentrations of population 
and skills, as in the "Greater New York Regional Plan/' The 
combination of industrial satellites and collective farms ad- 
vocated by the Russians makes up a typical regional plan. 
And the remarkably many-sided plan of the TVA can 
serve us as an example of integrated primary planning 
unique in the United States. 

Broadacres and the Homestead 

The Broadacres plan of Frank Lloyd Wright could be 
considered as an attempt to bring farm values to an indus- 
trial town. "A human being from the time he is born," says 
Wright, "is entitled to a piece of ground with which he can 
identify himself by the use of it. If he can work on his 
ground, he should do it. But, barring physical disability, 
he should not eat if he does not work except when he can 
fairly trade his right to work for some other actual contri- 
bution to the welfare and happiness of those who do work. 
Money is today [1937] his immunity from work, a false 
privilege, and because of it there is insecurity, confusion, 

Broadacres: pattern extending over the entire countryside (after 

and loss of quality in all life-values. The philosophy of every 
form in Broadacres is just this 'out of die ground into the 
light/ in circumstances that make a happy thing of man's 
use and improvement of his own ground." 

This sturdy individualism is admirable; it is the arche- 
typal attitude of the American architect, a socially respected 
artist who has a "profession." It does not promise much 
excitement, much existential novelty, nor does it do much 
for high culture. It sounds Jeffersonian; but Jefferson is 
great because of his polarity with Paris, London, New York. 


The economic conception is partly from Henry George, 
partly from (or agreeing with) Ralph Borsodi. The value 
of land is given by its use; agricultural self-support is pri- 
mary and the chief part of industrial culture; industrial and 
professional division of labor and exchange is valid but 
secondary-; finance and most of the political superstructure 
are invalid and predatory. But Borsodi, planning a rural 
life, drives these ideas to their logical conclusion and there- 
fore is culturally radical, whereas Wright feels that his own 
work is "transitional" and he is culturally tame. "We cannot 
yet expect everyone to become a bona-fide tiller of the 
soil, particularly not the citizens of such urbanized popula- 
tion as we have at present. We must provide for people 
whose education and way of life has unfitted them for the 
more rounded life planned here." 

It is sad that, as he got older, Wright quite lost the wild 
vision of his youth, of flaming Chicago, its machines and 
blast furnaces, that he shared with Dreiser, Sandburg, 
Poetry magazine, all tending to age in the same way. 

Broadacres is conceived as a kind of county seat, a rela- 
tive concentration occurring occasionally in a less dense 
population stretching indefinitely. Even so, it provides four 
square miles for 1400 families, almost up to the formula 
"An acre per person a maximum of, say, ten acres for a 
farmer/' (The Garden City, we remember, has 12 families 
to the acre.) It is not a city plan but a continuing region, 
varying according to the topography. Broadacre City is 
"everywhere and nowhere." It stretches in all directions. For 
Wright the salient features of neo-technology are "automo- 
bility" and electric communication. (Does he mean TV?) 
Industry is decentralized to one or two moderately-sized 
industries in each concentration he gives no plan of the 
decentralization. In general, the industrial plants are scat- 
tered among the farms. "Automobility" (car and helicopter) 
is the means of combining the large areas of agricultural 
residence with industrial work, for apparently most of the 
farms are maintenance gardens. That is, the formula of inte- 

A Manual of Modem Plans 91 

gration is nearer to the National Resources Planning Board's 
"industrial occupation plus subsistence farming" than to 
Borsodi's "independence farming plus cash-crops or domes- 
tic industry for the purchase of labor-saving machinery." 
But Broadacres is conceived not as a subsistence but as a 
surplus plan, it consciously selects rural values over urban 

The politics is very confused. What belongs to the individ- 
ual acre and its improvement is private; what belongs to the 
big machinery e.g., roads, gasoline, poweris controlled 
by the democratic central government, this being the prin- 
cipal justification of government altogether. But "industry" 
as such does he distinguish manufacture from other indus- 
try? is under corporate capitalism, which apparently will 
relinquish its specific ownership of oil and power "without 
revolution." There are, then, one-car houses and five-car 
houses. Yet to avoid the dilemmas of capitalist finance, the 
society has Social Credit but this, of course, would be 
meaningful only in an expanding profit technology, the 
very opposite of the Borsodian restricted non-cash economy 
which also seems essential to Broadacres. (What Wright 
could mean, and might have said if he ever thought it 
through, is the strictly divided economy of maintenance and 
surplus that we propose in Scheme III below, Chapter 7.) 

"It follows from all this genuinely constructive way of 
life that in the administration the county architect is im- 
portant. He has a certain disciplinary as well as cultural 
relationship to the whole, and since he maintains the har- 
mony of the whole his must be one of the best minds the 
city has, and it will inevitably become the best trained." 
This speaks for itself. 

The education of the young is agricultural "Each boy and 
girl has to begin with a hoe in his hand. We begin at the 
root of society with the culture of the children ... A *classi- 
caF education would be worse than useless. Instead, man 
studies man in relation to his birthright, the ground. He 
starts his earthly career with his feet on the ground, but 


his head may be in the clouds at times." Lastly (1945): 
"Conscription is the ultimate form of rent." 

With this architect, of course, the chief value of Broad- 
acres would not be in its model plan, but in the concrete 
buildings, in the adaptations that he would make to the 
varieties of sites and local materials, and the analysis of 
actual living arrangements. This is where the live culture 
would appear. The beauty of Wright's architecture begins 
in the expression of the site, especially a peculiar site, and 
in finding the form in natural materials, especially local 
materials. It is a domestic architecture, for he sees the prob- 
lem of architecture as enclosure of space to make a unique 
place, a shelter. The uniqueness of the place is given by 
the plan, which is made for an individual family. The 
machined materials are plainly machined and handled as 
if tailor-made, no two houses alike. There is as much design 
in a single Wright unit as in the thousand units of a housing 
project, and it is more relevant design. 

The importance of Broadacres as a community plan lies 
in Wright's willingness to select values, going with or against 
current trends as suits his free intuition. But his intuition is 
limited. He aims at the integration of urban and rural hfe, 
but he seems, by the time of Broadacres, to have lost what 
feeling he had for the city and the factory. He does not 
tell us how to make industrial life humane and worthwhile; 

A -flower plot, 
Imperial Hotel, Tokyo 

A Manual of Modern Plans 93 

his presentation of industries, factories, industrial location, 
transport, the division of labor, is extremely sketchy, often 
inferior to existent facts. Yet, embarrassed to make a clean 
break with the city, he missed the opportunity to plan a 
genuinely Borsodian community 5 an enterprise for which 
he was more fitted than any other man. 

The Homestead 

Borsodi himself plans for only rural America: his is a 
plan for relative agricultural self-sufficiency and machine 
domestic production. He says little about cities and big 
industry except to advocate an even distribution of the 
population-50%-50% instead of 80%~20%. The reduc- 
tion in industrial crops would itself have this effect. Yet 
much of what he says about domestic production with small 
electrical machines is applicable to urban life. 

He has two main theses. First, as the cost of production 
falls, the cost of distribution rises. This is clearly true of 
crop production, whose industrialization involves immense 
areas with increasing bulk transportation, marketing, spoil- 
ing, as well as the need for cash purchases at prices which, 
unlike home transactions, include the wages of a host of 
middlemen and functionaries. (In industrial farming the 
land is also abused, as Kropotkin showed sixty years ago 
in Fields, Factories, Workshops.) Borsodi concluded that 
at least "two-thirds of the goods and services" required in 
a home are more efficiently produced domestically with 
the aid of electricity. That is, in a farm home where there 
is raw material. 

His second thesis is that social security and stability re- 
quire a larger number of self-sufficient fanners, whereas 
industrial cash farming has made the farmer even more in- 
secure than his urban brother. There is an irreducible differ- 
ence between diversified farming and all other work: the 
farmer can ultimately subsist, even in some comfort, without 
the industrial division of labor, but without the farmer the 



Broadacres: one-car house 

Broadacres: five-car house 

non-farmer cannot subsist at all. In principle this imrecip- 
roeal relation should involve a different overall social plan 
from that in which farming, regarded practically as an 
extractive industry, is like other businesses, only more 
risky. (In philosophical economic terms the unreciprocity 
could be stated by saying that the capital of a diversified 
symbiotic farm is largely naturalit was not social labor 

A Manual of Modern Plans 95 

that produced the physiology, the reproductive system, and 
the balance of nature of plant, animal, and man. Therefore 
one must not look to the same extent for the relations of 
contract, wages, and prices.) 

The farm has often provided an excellent all-around In- 
tegration of work and culture. (Marx somewhere speaks of 
the Elizabethan yeomanry as having had the highest hu- 
manity yet reached! ) Yet it is equally true that, historically, 
farm life and domestic life have never provided the grand 
breadth of political and social culture that pertains to cities. 
It is not only by external pressure that people have emi- 
grated from the land when they could. The planner of 
integration must take the city into account and find the 
human scale there. 

Perhaps this is a good place to mention, finally, the fact 
that used to haunt every discussion of country-city relations; 
"the primary consideration," says Lewis Mumford, "domi- 
nating every other in city-planning." Namely, that the birth 
rate in the country more than reproduces the population, 
whereas the cities must be replenished by mass migration of 
youth from the farm. And since taxes and so forth are de- 
termined by city politicians, the farmers get the dirty end 
of the stick. 

In the last t\vo war decades, however, marriage and 
family life have so increased in general and the farm popu- 
lation has so decreased, that the relationship is less clear; 
the suburbs seem to be the favored breeding grounds. 

The Soviet Regional Plan 

In a country predominantly rural, like the Soviet Union- 
three rural to one urban as against one to four in the United 
States the problem is the reverse: political and cultural 
perfection is thought to depend on the diffusion of industrial 
labor and industrial values. The scheme of integration is 
not to reassert rural self-sufficiency but to bring the cities 
to the land. The "elimination of the difference between the 


two cities of 1 50,000- 
200,000 population in 
favorable sites. But workers 
must travel up to 22 miles 
to the oil fields. 


1 2 to 15 settlements 
of 15,000-20,000 
population near the oil 
fields. But some sites 
are unfavorable and because 
towns are small, municipal 
and cultural services 
would be limited. 



Five cities each with 
population of 60,000- 
80,000, all located 
favorably. Each large 
enough for good culture 
and municipal service. All 
convenient to oil fields. 


shortage of materials retarded construction the 
increasing population crowded into Baku where 
housing, schools and utilities were available 
though overloaded. 
CENSUS BAKU as proposed 1942 
Equals 700,000 people 

actual condition 1 939809,000 

= Oil field 

Inhabited place 

A Manual of Modern Plans 97 

city and the village*' has two aspects: the regional decentral- 
ization of industry and the industrialization of agriculture. 

At the time of the preparation of the Moscow plan, we 
saw, it was counterproposed, in the interests of transporta- 
tion, to decentralize heavy industry to the sources of raw 
materials and power and thus to develop new, smaller cen- 
ters in hitherto undeveloped regions, especially the Urals, 
Siberia and the w r ater basins in the South. This counterpro- 
posal was later modified and extended into a full-blown re- 
gional plan, the "entry 7 into socialism," the principle being 
cultural as well as technical (not to mention the military 
necessity of decentralizing heavy industry away from the 
then German frontier). 

Ideally, the industrial plan consists of an even distribution 
of centers throughout the country, each with several one- 
industry Satellite Towns. The even spread brings the cities to 
the land, an aim so important that it can in particular cases 
outweigh strict technical efficiency: e.g., the Magnitogorsk- 
Kuznetsk (Ural-Siberian) iron-coal combination was per- 
haps less efficient than bringing the iron westward to the 
coal, but it freed the heaviest industry from dependence on 
Europe, gave it a mid-Union source of steel, and built up 
the vast spaces of the east. (As it turned out, coal was later 
found in the Urals and iron in Siberia.) The form of Satellite 
Cities allows for specialization and yet regional concentra- 
tion to insure a relative regional autonomy: it keeps sepa- 
rate industries close to the source of their materials, it is 
free of the excessive local transport of great metropoles, yet 
it provides a sufficient aggregate population to support an 
urban culture. A typical satellite cluster, the chemical com- 
bination around Perm, is described by Hannes Meyer. 

The ideal for the industrial satellite was felt to be 200,000; 
compare this with the 100,000 of Sharp's culture satellite. 
But in Russia, as elsewhere, the ideal often succumbs to 

Proposal vs. disposal on the Baku Peninsula 

98 CO M M U N I T A S 

circumstances. Thus, despite a reasonable decision to de- 
velop the Baku peninsula in a group of medium cities of 
80,000, development centered in the city of Baku, which 
by 1939 had grown to over 800,000, with an increasing 
problem of transport to the oil wells. 

To sum up the industrial plan, the aim is "To develop 
industries close to the sources of raw materials and power 
... To distribute industry evenly over the entire country, so 
as to create nuclei of industrial and urban culture in the 
backward peasant regions ... To specialize production in ac- 
cordance with the natural and cultural resources of each 
region ... But to provide a variety of production so that 

yew city of Novosibirsk: 1. Civic center 2. Railroad station 
and factory 3. Stores 4. Theater and museum 5. Parks and 

schools 6. Homing 7. Warehousing 

A Manual of Modern Plans 99 

every region may achieve a relative completeness, not 
autarchy, within its territory." (Hans Blumenfeld.) 

Politically, such a decentralized plan on the basis of 
industrial specialization involves two polar principles. On 
the one hand there must be an authoritative national plan 
to allot the specific production and distribute the products; 
and in Soviet discussion this pole is always emphasized. 
But we should also expect that each decentralized industrial 
complex, made self-conscious by its specific work and having 
a "certain regional completeness," would exert political 
power: the regional specialization of industries should pro- 
duce a kind of federal syndicalism; yet this eminently inter- 
esting result has been severely unstressed by Soviet plan- 
ners. On the contrary, although the revolution itself, and 
the very idea of Soviets, sprang in great measure from 
industrial units acting as political powers, the tendency has 
always been toward political centralization. 

But on the civic level, the local autonomy of towns and 
regions has been encouraged (somewhat ike the system 
of states and counties in the United States). City services, 
housing, etc., are not determined by the national economic 
plan, they must be decided closer to home provided ma- 
terial and capital are allotted by the central government. 
There is a resurgence of town Soviets. But no correlation is 
made between town authority and the specific industrial 
role that gives livelihood; the great chance of integration is 

The actual ideals can almost be read off from the typical 
town plan itself. It is, again, a green belt plan, quarantining 
the production from the social life; butthis is the novelty 
in the center of the residential part, well removed from the 
factories, is the square of the national and local adminis- 
tration, connected by a broad avenue with the center of 
culture, the theater, the museum. If only it were the union- 
hall! As in some of our own country towns, on the square 
there is the church and the Grange, as well as the post 
office (and the jail). 

The main avenues frequently follow the lineal plan of 


the disurbanists, along railroad or waterway, for efficiency 
of transport. But there is always the attempt to create a 
political and cultural center, and to introduce the amenities 
of Garden Cities. Residential quarters are community 
blocks, for that is the working unit of domestic life; but the 
principle of finding the working unit is not applied to the 
integration of industry, politics, culture. 

Thus, on the whole we see the signs of nineteenth-century 
reform, but not a radical new way of life. There will be 
shorter working hours, social sendees, and "parks of culture 
and rest"; but initiative and administration, the grounds 
of individual security and the culture of society, are related 
onlv indirectly to the work and the potential power of the 

The Industrialization of Agriculture 

The other side of the elimination of the difference be- 
tween the city and the village is the industrialization of 
agriculture. Because of circumstances, this has taken two 
main forms, state farm and collective farm, the second 
superseding the first about 1932. 

In the state farm, agriculture is considered as an extrac- 
tive industry on a par with other industries. Industrialization 
consists in employing heavy machinery, maximum speciali- 
zation of crop, and the indefinite increase in the size of the 
field devoted to each speciality. The theory is that produc- 
tivity is increased not only in absolute volume but economi- 
cally with the increase of area devoted to a single crop. 
(With Borsodi, or Kropotkin, we have seen reason to doubt 
this. ) The agricultural plan then proceeds as follows. First, 
a national program of crop requirements and the machinery 
available. Next, division of the country as a whole, mainly 
according to climate, into vast zones for specialized farming: 
wheat, stock, fruit, citrus fruit, cotton. The zones for perish- 
able vegetables are, perforce, laid around the cities but 
with new methods of preservation and transport, this would 
be obviated, as in America. Third, training in central agri- 

A Manual of Modem Plans 101 

cultural colleges of expert agronomists to be sent through- 
out the country as directors of the peasantry, who now 
become an unskilled proletariat. 

If a crop useful in manufacture, such as cotton or soy- 
bean, is combined with a regional industrial center, we 
have a model agrindustrial complex. 

On a typical state farm, 100,000 hectares, there will be 
a center of administration, containing shops for major ma- 
chine repairs and apartment houses for the winter residence 
of the total farm population. Such a center might well be 
in the city itself. The farm is divided into working sections 
where the machinery for each is kept during the summer, 
and where minor repairs are made on the spot by a traveling 
shop summoned from the big administrative center by 
telephone. The workers of each section remain in the field 
through the summer, in summer cottages. The harvested 
crop is taken by rail directly from stations in the fields. The 
combination of crops is not the diversification of small-scale 
intensive farming, but depends on the functional industrial 
juxtaposition of different vast farms, e.g., providing feeding 
stations for cattle on a neighboring com farm. The single 
cash crop is marketed in Moscow and the workers are paid 
money wages. (The factor of distribution, of course, is 
enormously increased.) 

Such a scheme is obviously the finish of agriculture as a 
way of life and of the farmer as a relatively self-subsistent 
craftsman with an important domestic economy. Corre- 
spondingly, the transition is easy from rural to canned urban 
values. The state farm is a remarkable pattern for getting 
the worst of both worlds. In any case it failed in Russia 
around 1930, because of political and especially technical 
difficulties. Such farms survive in Russia mainly as stations 
for experiment and breeding. (The increasing success of 
such cash-crop estates in America is due to our immense 
technology of transport and preservation, and because there 
are towns and cities for the rural proletariat to escape to; 
and add the ruthless exploitation of Mexican and Negro 
migratory labor.) 

102 C O M M U N I T A S 

Collective Farms 

Collective fanning is an adaptation to industrial tech- 
nology less disruptive of the traditional ways, which it in- 
deed perfects. 

Enough individually worked farm land is pooled to be 
technically and economically practicable for machine culti- 
vation. (Average 80 farms, 1930.) Each farm family main- 
tains for its own use a private plot, house, and animals. 
Throughout the countryside, machine stations are estab- 
lished by the state to serve the collectives. (One station to 
40 collectives. ) The stations provide not only machines and 
repairs, but agronomic and social services. The tax for the 

Kolkhoz: one M.T.S. per forty collective farms 

A Manual of Modern Plans 103 

station, including insurance, comes to about 30% of the 
produce, paid in kind; the rest is divided among the co- 
operators. During the summer, a city day's work is done on 
the collective by the men, about half a day's work by the 
women; off-time can be devoted to the private holding. In 
addition, winter industrial work is available at processing 
plants located on the collectives or at the machine stations. 
Further, the crop produced on the collective is most often 
diversified; it may be sold locally, as well as consumed 

This seems to be a good integration. Whatever the actual 
practice may be, the ideal of industrialization here is not 
necessarily to bring the farmer into the cash nexus of the 
national economy, run from Moscow, but to give him in- 
creased productivity and easier work in his locality. The 
cost is a loss of individual independence, but the Russian 
poor peasant was never an individualist. Culturally, the 
scheme affirms the communalism of the peasants and allows 
for more rational cooperation. In a backward region, it cer- 
tainly means a general advance. It does not destroy the 
agricultural way of life, but makes the farm a more equal 
rival of the city. 

Intentional Communities 

Cooperative farming, pooling land for machine cultiva- 
tion, reserving part for diversified gardening, with various 
degrees of family ownership, all as a basis for a more inte- 
grated community life: this exists in many places, in 
cooperatives of the United States and Europe, in the impres- 
sive collectives of Mexico and Russia, and the communes 
of China. The driving motives may be economic, to get a 
fair deal with the city, to raise the cultural level of the 
peasants and rescue them from poverty, illiteracy, and dis- 
ease, to industrialize without urbanizing, etc. Such motives 
can be part of national policy. 

It is a very different matter when the way of life itself, 


a well-rounded life in a free community, is the principal 
motivation. Such an attitude belongs not to backward but 
precisely to avant-garde groups, who are sensitive and 
more thoughtful than the average, and who react against 
the extant condition of society as fragmented, insecure, 
lonely, superficial, or wicked. They are willing to sacrifice 
social advantages to live in a community of the like-minded. 
National policy and policy-makers are not up to these re- 
finements; the communities are small, politically on the 
fringe (though often intensely political as a function of life) , 
and they tend to be transitory; yet they are the vital engaged 
experiments in which, alone perhaps, new social ideas can 
emerge, so we must notice them here. 

Such "intentional communities,'' as the sociologists call 
them (modern examples are described by H. Infield), have 
come into being throughout history in antiquity as philo- 
sophic or mystical brotherhoods; then as Christian fellow- 
ships; during the Reformation as part of the general dissent; 
as ways of coping with early industrial capitalism (Owen- 
ites, Fourierists). But our modern conditions, of super- 
organized capital and one neo-technology after another, 
have perhaps added a new chapter to the old story. To put 
it paradoxically, there is today so much communication, 
means of communication, and communication-theory, that 
there isn't any community; so much socialism, social-agency, 
and sociology that there isn't any society of work and living. 
We have mentioned these absurdities in our introduction; 
they induce "utopian" reactions, for instance our harping 
here on "integration." 

Consider our modern difference another way. Inten- 
tional communities have generally disintegrated, or so their 
members thought, because of outside pressures or outside 
temptations, bankruptcy, hostility of the surroundings, loss 
of religious faith among skeptics, attraction of big-city vices. 
It is generally agreed that non-rational motives, like religion 
or nationalism, wear better in this struggle than rational 
motives like philosophy, pacifism, or economic good sense. 

A Manual of Modern Plans 105 

But today we also think that communities disintegrate es- 
pecially because of interpersonal difficulties; these explain 
the boredom, inefficiency, loss of faith; people are simply 
not up to living and working together. So the experts in 
community give sociometric tests (Moreno) to determine 
who among modern men are fit to live closely with their 
fellows, to bear the tensions and excitements of it. "Inte- 
gration" is apparently no longer natural for all men. This 
seems to cut down the possibilities enormously, for to live 
well now requires, (1) To be disgusted with the common 
way; (2) To have a burning ideal to share, and (3) To 
have a cooperative character. 

Given the paucity of candidates, such weeding-out tests 
are a poor expedient. Would it not be better, instead of 
regarding "non-cooperation" as a datum, to take the bull 
by the horns and regard community life as a continuous 
group-psychotherapy in our sick society, in which just the 
anxieties and tensions of living together become the positive 
occasions to change people and release new energy alto- 
gether? This would in turn diminish the reliance on non- 
rational ideals, since the excitement of contact is soon more 
valuable than the attractions of the world. 


The most perfect viable intentional community of modern 
times has been the kvutzah or kibbutz of the Zionists and 
Israelis. Those who settled these little communities were 
leaving not only anti-Semitism but also, imbued with the 
most advanced organic and socialist philosophies of the 
nineteenth century, the inorganic and competitive world 
of the west As Jews, fanning seemed to them the return 
to primary usefulness, independence, and dignity from 
which they had been excluded; but many of them were 
also professionals and craftsmen, used to science and ma- 
chines. They had also a pioneering dedication to a neglected 
and inhospitable soil, with the satisfaction of making it 






& SAftAGE 



12. L1VIMC5 



bloom. This was sharpened by nationalism, for the land 
was foreign and became increasingly hostile, Pretty soon 
they learned that this arduous community was not for every- 
body, and their international organization coped with the 
weeding-out by setting up long training periods for candi- 
dates before the emigration. 

In its heyday, unlike the Russian collective, the kvutzah 
exercised almost complete autonomy of activity, and yet 
could sell in a competitive market; it was a community- 
anarchism that, apart from its nationalism, would have satis- 
fied Kropotkin. Crops, methods, industrialization, education, 
family relations, interpersqnal problems: all directly deter- 
mined in town meeting. Unhampered by national planning 
bureaucrats, each community can make use of the skills 
and resources it happens to have, and manufacture shoes, 

A Manual of Modem Plans 107 

bricks, processed foods, citrus products whatever seems 
convenient and profitable. Also, by entering into exchange 
with other autonomous communities of the same kind for 

they form an even international federation they partly 
avoid the stranglehold of the cash nexus. There is at least 
the nucleus of a sufficient technology initiated and governed 
completely from below. 

More remarkable than making the desert bloom, these 
communities have invented, and somewhat proved, a new 
idea about the upbringing of children. The parents have 
private quarters, which provide home, love, and emotional 
security also for the children; but the education and disci- 
pline of the children belongs to the entire community, peers 
and the productive life of the adults: more objective and 
friendly than parents. (This requires, of course, a small 
community where everybody knows everybody. When the 
kvutzah grows beyond this it must split up.) The young 
people of this training whom one meets "cactus-fruit," as 
they call themselves are, as one would expect, character- 
istically brash, good-looking, know-it-all but not disrespect- 
ful, self-reliant but not really independent, sentimental, and 
very provincial. The brand of an integrated community, 
better than other brands. 

Naturally, with the establishment of the national state, 
these communities are under heavy pressure. Community 
anarchism does not fit easily into national states especially 
when the overseas aid that has greased the wheels of the 
Zionist enterprise begins to dry up. Yet in the great present 
crisis, the unexpected influx of hundreds of thousands of 
refugee Jews from the surrounding Moslem countries, the 
communities have been willing and able to receive and 
train far more than their share: they are stable and adapta- 
ble. In the long run, perhaps, the more dangerous threat 
to their existence is die attraction of urban Me (pretty 
clothes and lipstick for the women, crowds, privacy, bright 


Progressive Schools 

A major problem of every intentional face-to-face com- 
munity is its "cash-crop," its economic role in the great 
society that has no integral way of life but has a most inte- 
grated cash nexus. Usually the problem is not enough money 
or credit to buy needed mass-produced machinery. But 
let us mention a touching example of a contrary problem. 
The Macedonia (pacifist) community made pedagogic toy- 
blocks for cash, and distributed them, at cost of production, 
to like-minded groups like progressive schools; but the 
blocks became popular and big commercial outfits wanted a 
large number. Macedonia was then faced with the following 
dilemma: these commercial jobbers would resell at a vast 
profit; yet if Macedonia itself charged them what the market 
would bear, the community would itself be contaminated 
by commercialism. 

The cash-crop of the small intentional community that 
has often served as its social role in the larger society is 
education: the community is a progressive school. (One is 
reminded of Plato's remark that training men is like tending 
livestock, so that this too is a branch of agriculture. ) In the 
theory of progressive education, integral community life is 
of the essence: one learns by doing, one learns to live in a 
contactful community. The buildings are built by the stu- 
dents and teachers. Usually there is a farm. Emphasis is laid 
on creative arts and crafts, as unblocking of deep energy and 
as inventing the forms of better environment. Some pro- 
gressive schools specialize in serving the surrounding region 
as social-physicians and leaders of regional improvements. 

In the educational community, the mores are in principle 
permissive and experimental, and the persons form, almost 
invariably, a spectrum of radical thought and life, from 
highly moralistic religious-pacifists, through socialists and 
La Follette or TVA liberals, to free-thinking anarchists. The 
close contact of such persons, the democratic and convivial 

A Manual of Modern Plans 109 

intermingling of faculty and students, leads inevitably to 
violent dissensions, sexual rivalries, threatened families. It 
is at this point, as we have said, that the community could 
become a psychotherapeutic group and try by its travails to 
hammer out a new ideal for us all in these difficult areas 
where obviously our modern society is in transition. Instead, 
the community itself tends to break up. 

Yet perhaps the very transitoriness of such intensely mo- 
tivated intentional communities is part of their perfection. 
Disintegrating, they irradiate society with people who have 
been profoundly touched by the excitement of community 
lif e, who do not forget the advantages but try to realize them 
in new ways. People trained at defunct Black Mountain, 
North Carolina, now make a remarkable little village of 
craftsmen in Haverstraw, N. Y. (that houses some famous 
names in contemporary art). Perhaps these communities 
are like those 'little magazines" and "little theaters" that 
do not outlive their first few performances, yet from them 
comes all the vitality of the next generation of everybody's 


Let us, finally, say something about regionalism and re- 
gional-planning. Nearly all American planners would agree 
that these are grand things, reacting, no doubt, not only 
against isolated planning but against the sameness sinking 
down on our country from coast to coast. But as Charles 
Abrams said recently (Tokyo, 1958), it is hard to say 
what they mean by regionalism, what is the unifying prin- 
ciple of a region. (He himself tends to find it either in ad- 
ministrative convenience or in some primary geophysical 
development, like planning a watershed.) 

The Russian regional plans of this chapter are industrial- 
economic unities, and these regions may well, in the USSR, 
coincide with regions of race, culture, and language. So 
throughout the nineteenth century in Europe, nationalism 

Blade Mountain College (after P. Williams) 1. Study buildings 
2. Shops and Laboratories 3. Exhibits and Meetings 4. Dining 
hall 5, Library 6. Living quarters 7. Quiet house 

could be regarded as economic, cultural, and linguistic re- 
gional planning. (In contrast, the Chinese Communists 
seem to want to break down regional differences by trans- 
planting whole populations.) In an advanced technology 
like the American, however, economic regionalism is van- 
ishing. Doorframes for a building in Denver were manufac- 
tured on the East Coast, but people in New York eat garden 
vegetables from Texas; this seems idiotic, but the tech- 
nology and transport warrant it, and the economy appar- 
ently demands it. We saw that Fuller refused to consider 
any space-age region less than the continents of the world 
around the North Pole. (And if we believe the writers of 
science fiction, as how can we not, our region is the Milky 
Way.) Of cultural regionalism we have little: our one dis- 
tinctive region is the so-called "South," whose unity consists 
in oppressing Negroes to the mutual disadvantage of Ne- 
groes and whites. In fact, our striking cultural regions are 
precisely the metropolitan centers, New York, the Bay Area, 
perhaps Chicago; and vast cities do require a kind of re- 
gional planning of traffic, taxation, and civic function. 

A Manual of Modem flans 111 

Geophysical regions do exist spectacularly in our country. 
It is pathetic if the esthetic advantages of our unique land- 
scapes, of our coasts, plains, sub tropics, mountains, river 
valleys and deserts, cannot make us a more various America 
than we are getting. In our history, the Americans have 
thrown away one of our most precious heritages, the Fed- 
eral system, a system of political differences of regions, 
allowing for far-reaching economic, legal, cultural, and 
moral experimentation-as the La Follettes experimented in 
Wisconsin, the Longs in Louisiana, as Sinclair tried in Cali- 
fornia. (Or as Alberta, Canada tried out Social Credit. ) This 
was the original idea of our system. When the fathers gave 
up the leaky Articles of Confederation for the excellent aims 
of the Preamble, they were not thinking of a land with an 
identical gas station, Wbolworth's, and diner at every cross- 
roads; with culture canned for everybody in Hollywood and 
on Madison Avenue; and with the wisdom of local law 
dominated by the FBI. 


The improvement of the Tennessee Valley by the Tennes- 
see Valley Authority started with a single natural resource: 
a flow of water with a head of as much as 5000 feet, caused 
by precipitation of up to 80 inches over a region touching 
half a dozen states. Previous to the Authority, part of this 
flow was developed for electric power and the fixing of 
nitrogen, for munitions and later for fertilizer. The Author- 
ity was empowered to expand this into a multiple-use 
handling of the waterway: a system of dams, locks, reser- 
voirs and channels for power, navigation, and flood-control. 
But this at once involved the improvement of the watershed 
itself to assure steady flow and good volume of -storage; so 
the Authority turned to forestation, prevention of erosion, 
and improvement of cultivation. 

At this point a profound change occurred in the idea. 



The concept of a multiple-use enterprise is familiar in busi- 
ness; the sum of different lands of products, by-products, 
and services make possible a capital investment which for 
any one of them would be unprofitable; this is the case in 
most extractive and refining industries. What was unique 
in the TVA was the decision to spread the benefits of one 
part of the enterprise, the waterway, to the farmers of the 
whole region without specific evaluation of the cash outlay 
and return, the principle being just "the general social bene- 
fit." This decision, this principle, was possible because it is 
the immediate products of the waterway, not their cash 
equivalents, that the farmers need: electric power, water, 
and fertilizer extracted or processed by industrial electricity. 
That is, there was an absolutely new fund of wealth pro- 
duced by the project and directly contributing, without 
middlemen or a high cost of distribution, to the expanding 
benefits of the project. It might seern that this direct contri- 
bution and immediate specific value of the products was a 

The Tennessee Valley 


A Manual of Modern Plans 113 

mere convenience of bookkeeping; but indeed, it was just 
this that has made the whole a model of integrated regional 
planning, naturally expanding and seizing useful opportuni- 
ties, relatively free from the profit nexus of society as a 

An enterprise in which the productive combinations of 
nature play a major part we have cited the instance of the 
symbiotic farm has a powerful and generous capitalist in- 
deed! Nor is it easy to keep its books in double entry. That 
here was something unique has been proved by the violent 
subsequent lawsuits concerning the "yardstick" for setting 
a competitively fair price for power that is being distributed, 
(1) As a social benefit; and (2) As necessary for the perfec- 
tion of the valley improvement. 

The natural benefits of the regional improvement have 
made themselves felt far outside the region, in controlling 
flood and in moderating the effects of drought a thousand 
miles away. How to price that? And without question, if the 
industrial use of the region were exploited by the electro- 
metallurgical and other electric industries, pursuing the 
same social policy of free expansion, the economic effect 
would be enormous throughout the nation. The necessity, 
for efficiency, of setting up a power grid over a wide area 
alters the economy of the private power companies adjacent. 
Also, a picturesque region sensibly developed becomes by 
definition a place for recreation. 

But the most telling proof of the force of such a naturally 
integrated plan is the continual emergency of ingenious 
inventions, in an expanding activity supported by a steady 
surplus of directly useful resource. Along with the invention 
of a new fertilizer came an ingenious machine for depositing 
seed and fertilizer in one operation; along with the conse- 
quent introduction of diversified crops and dairying, came 
electric processes for both quick-freezing and dehydration. 

An architectural invention developed by the Authority 
deserves special mention: the section trailer-houses, a kind 
of moving town, adapted to the migration of thousands of 
skilled workers from one construction site to another. These 

TVA: "severely decorative functionalism" 


\MMJUA Coe*u l**"4 a II . i 



TVA; a portable house 

A Manual of Modern Plans 115 

had a meaning and beauty superior to the design of the main 

structures themselves, in which the planners of the Author- 
ity take inordinate pride but which, as Fritz Gutheim 
naively boasts, are "the architecture of public relations." 
(The style of severely decorative functionalism. ) 

To sum up, let us quote from the description of the TV A 
in the final report (1934) of the National Resources Plan- 
ning Board: "There is a broad technical integration of the 
specific tasks assigned to T.V.A., which have raised funda- 
mental issues of social policy and have involved planning on 
a scale unusual in the United States. To begin with, the ef- 
fort to set up a well-managed, low-cost, self-supporting sys- 
tem of power production necessitates the integrated devel- 
opment of the Tennessee River. The prevention of soil-ero- 
sion is necessary to prevent the dams from silting up within 
a century. But erosion is a prblem in its own right. To pre- 
vent it, a program of afforestation and public works must be 
undertaken, and large areas turned from plow crops to 
grass. This cannot be done without experimental work in 
die development of phosphate fertilizers. To further this 
transformation and to develop the agricultural potential of 
the region, provision has been made for encouraging the 
cooperative movement. To find a market for the potential 
power has involved lowering the selling price of power for 
domestic use and the lowering of the price of electric appli- 
ances through the Electric Home and Farm Authority. 

"The work of the T.V.A. has dealt with large social issues, 
some of which involve substantial modifications of the exist- 
ing institutional structure of the country. Most fundamental 
of all is a decision of Congress to establish public ownership 
and operation of hydroelectric works in the Valley; the 
demonstration of the economy of social service in this field 
may foreshadow a broad change from private to public 
operation of utilities in the United States. The elimination 
of private enterprise by the T.V.A. and the extension of 
rural electrification carries with it a reconsideration of the 
criterion of profitability. There is a difficult decision, involv- 
ing social policy, that must be made with regard to the 



purchase price of privately owned distributing systems. In 
connection with the program to prevent soil-erosion it is 
deemed necessary to redefine property rights. These and 
other examples may be cited as large social changes implicit 
in the execution of the technical tasks assigned to the 


This necessity of overriding political and economic boun- 
daries, and of following the functional relationships within 
the region, comes from the original decision to exploit nature 
directly rather than after it has been more or less fixed in 
commodities and capital, whether in a profit system or in 
the framework of a national plan determined from some 
political center. Nature proves to have novel potentialities; 
new problems arise, and new solutions are found in hardly 
suspected natural resources. Following natural subject mat- 
ter, human inventiveness. 

But of course this process soon comes to its limits; the 
institutions of society reassert themselves. It is after all only 
a natural region. 

Norris Dam 


Three Community Paradigms 

Values and Choices 

Such are some great plans of the past century that variously 
emphasize the relation between the means of livelihood and 
the ways of life. Now let us make a new beginning and col- 
lect our conclusions for our own problems in this book : How 
to make a selection of modern technology? How to use our 
surplus? How to find the right relation between means and 

We have chosen to present our thoughts in the form of 
three community models of our own. Given the complex 
and incommensurable factors of the subject^ this seems to us 
the simplest as well as the liveliest method of presentation; 
to give typical important value-choices as if they were 
alternative programs and plans. None of these is presented 
as our own point of view. In fact, we should probably pre- 
fer to live in the second or middle scheme, and we don't 
make much effort to conceal our bemusement about the 
first, which is similar to New York in I960. Nevertheless, 
these three models are not plans, they are analyses; they 
refer to no site; they have no style, which comes only in 
building something concrete; and most important, there is 
no population that purely makes these alternative choices 
as we present them. People in fact want a mixture of the 
three, in varying proportions depending on their traditions 
and circumstances. 

Gunnar Myrdal, a great sociologist and a philosophic 
man, has said: 

Value premises must be explicitly stated and not hid- 
den as tacit assumptions . . . Since incompatible 
valuations are held in society, the value premises 
should ideally be given as a number of sets of alterna- 
tive hypotheses. 




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Bibliography for three ways of life today 

Three Community Paradigms 121 

This is exactly what we try to do. We present three alterna- 
tive models of choices with regard to technology, surplus, 
and the relation of means and ends, and we ask what each 
formula gives us in economics, politics, education, domestic 
standards, popular and high culture, and other functions of 
the community. These are regional schemes for: 

A. Efficient Consumption. 

B. Elimination of the Difference between Produc- 
tion and Consumption. 

C. Planned Security with Minimum Regulation. 

The Need for Planned Luxury Consumption 

American production requires a vast tribe of advertisers 
to boost the standard of living: this buys up the goods on 
the home market and allows for profitable reinvestment. 
The standard is very high but even so it often fails in im- 
portant areas, sometimes in automobiles, sometimes in eggs. 
No doubt we ought to give away more of our goods abroad 
and so increase the world standard. But it is an era when 
other lands are, or are hastening to become, advanced tech- 
nologies, and given the speed with which machine tools 
are multiplied and machine skills are learned, we can easily 
envisage the day when we won't be able to give anything 
away, we will have to use it ourselves. 

Our productivity is of course, immensely higher than the 
actual production. During the 30's, it is figured, we ran at 
much less than 50%, yet supported a luxury leisure class of 
a million and ten million unemployed of whom none starved 
except by the error of a social agency. During the war, pro- 
duction was nearer 90% of capacity (though inefficient, as 
emergency production must be), and many millions of the 
economically unemployed, in the armed services, enjoyed 
the use of such luxury commodities as tanks, bombers, heavy 
artillery, and warships. Since the war, though the standard 
has leaped higher, the productivity is again tightly checked. 

View from the University zone: the means of livelihood in the 


J. K. Galbraith has beautifully shown that, for all the ideol- 
ogy, no real attempt is made to improve production but only 
to maintain employment and protect present investment, A 
solution would be to slacken off the whole enterprise and cut 
down the hours of labor, but most of the workers (if we may 
judge by their union demands) do not want the leisure, 
they want the goods and the "fringe benefits." 

How to run nearer to capacity and also use up the goods? 
There has to be a planned production and a planned con- 
sumption to match it. The first is an economic problem, 
and government economists sometimes work at it for us it 
is not pressing except in emergencies of war or depression. 
"But the second, predominantly psychological, problem is 
always with us; it is left to the free lances of Madison 
Avenue. The results are never noble or gorgeous, often 
absurd, and sometimes immoral (For instance, a typical 
expedient that the advertisers have hit on in despair is to 
give away $64,000 to bright children and truckloads of 
electrical appliances to suburban ladies. But this creates in 
everybody's mind an incompatible clash of values, between 
the hard money that you work for and the soft money that 
is given away~as prizes or stipends for TV appearances 

Three Community Paradigms 123 

down to fringe benefits and social insurance. Eric Larrabee 
has stated it as a rule that the less hard you work for it, the 
more you are paid.) 

Adam Smith said: "Consumption is the sole end and 
purpose of production; and the interest of the producer 
ought to be attended to cnly so far as may be necessary for 
promoting that of the consumer. The maxim is so perfectly 
self-evident that it would be absurd to attempt to prove it/' 
As a general moral maxim,, it is certainly false: in this 
book we shall demonstrate two contrary purposes of pro- 
duction, as a way of life (Chapter 6) and as a means of 
freedom (Chapter 7). But for a market capitalism or a 
planned production expanding by the reinvestment of 
profits and this is what Smith was thinking of his maxim 
is still axiomatic, if the economy is to be good for anything 
at all. For such an economy, matching the planning of pro- 
duction and the efficient use of labor, we have to turn a 
concept of Veblen's upside down and speak of "Efficient 

Efficient consumption, early style (after Daumier) 


When Veblen set up as the opposite poles of economic 
morality the "instinct of workmanship" and "conspicuous 
waste,** he was thinking of an economy of scarcity. Labori- 
ousness, interest in technique, absence of superstition, and 
the other virtues of engineers seemed to him necessary to 
produce plenty, equality, and freedom; whereas combative- 
ness, classical education, and gambling guaranteed inse- 
curity and kept the masses in their place. But the fact is that 
now for at least three decades it has been not scarcity of 
production, but the weakness of the consumption attitudes 
of emulation, ostentation, and sheer wastefulness, that has 
depressed the productivity which is the economist's ideal. 
Only the instincts unleased by war have sufficed, under 
modern conditions, to bring economic salvation. 

So our first model is an analysis of how men can be as 
efficiently wasteful as possible. It is a city founded on the 
premises of the official economics, whether of Adam Smith 
or Keynes; yet it seems also to meet the moral demands of 
the New Yorkers, 


A City of Efficient Consumption 

The Metropolis as a Department Store 

We must have a big community. For it is mass production 
that provides the maximum quantity of goods. Yet, for a 
productivity expanding by the reinvestment of capital, the 
most efficient technical use of machinery is self-defeating: 
the product is standard and once it has been universally 
distributed, there is no more demand. (For instance, a great 
watch manufacturer has said, in a private remark, that in a 
year he could give everybody in the world a cheap durable 
watch and shut up shop.) One solution is to build obsoles- 
cence into the product; this, it is alleged, is being done in 
some industries, but it is morally repugnant. More morally 
tolerable, and psychologically exciting, is to have a variety 
of styles and changing fads. So we require a combination of 
mass production, variety of style, and changing fads. This 
means a big population: let us say, to mass-produce requires 
a large market ( 100,000) , and if there are 50 styles o each 
kind, we come to 5 million. 

But why must the big population be concentrated in 
metropoles? First, of course, on purely technical grounds, 
for efficient distribution and servicing under conditions of 
mass production. (Under conditions of a quasi-domestic 
industry, the situation is otherwise. ) We must refer here to 
the well-known fact that, during the last 70 years, although 
the percentage of farmers has steadily dwindled, the per- 
centage of workers in manufacturing has hardly increased; 
the great gain has been in the workers in "services." A part 



of these are teachers, doctors, social workers-groups playing 
a major role in any consumption economy; but the greater 
part are in transport, city services, etc. These have only an 
indirect role in production, and therefore countervene our 
principle of the simplest relation of means and ends. 

(U. S. Bureau of Census) (figures in millions) 

Factory Operatives 


Common Labor 


Administrative * I 11 

Sales J " ~~ 


Professional and Semi-Professional 

K-1 / $ i __ "I Q 

Service o '72 f Ic * 


Everyone agrees there is a great increase in serv- 
ices. Are the starred items "services'? 

Another figure from the Dept. of Labor: In 
1919 there were 25 million "goods-producing 
workers." Today the figure is about the same. But 
"service employees" have increased from 15 mil- 
lions in 1919 to over 30 millions in 1958. 

To minimize non-productive and non-consumptive serv- 
ices we must have (1) Concentration of production and 
market, and (2) Planning of the city to minimize services. 

We can come to the same conclusion of big cities by 
moral and psychological considerations. There is the possi- 
bility, as we shall presently show, of making machine pro- 
duction a way of life and immediate satisfaction; but when, 
as in the case we are now discussing, the tendency of pro- 
duction is toward quantity and sale on a profitable market, 
the possibility of satisfaction in the work vanishes. The ideal 
of work then becomes, as we see in the current demands of 

Three Community Paradigms 127 

labor unions, pleasant and hygienic working conditions, 
short hours at the task, and high wages to spend away 
from it. The workman wants to hasten away wealthy, un- 
impaired in health and spirits, from the job that means 
nothing to the home, the market, the city, where are all 
good things. This tendency is universal; it does not depend 
on machine industry; for we see that the farm youth, once it 
is acquainted with the allures of city life and city money, 
flocks to the city year after year in 50% of its strength. 

(It is also true that the colorless routine of machine pro- 
duction produces an opposite flight impulse: to escape the 
artificial framework of society altogether. This appears as an 
impulse toward suburbs and Garden Cities, but it is really 
an impulse toward the open country and the woods. So in 
our city we must plan for the polar opposites: the pleasures 
of the metropolis and the escape to the open country.) 

The goods must be on display; this is possible only in a 
big city. And the chief motivation to get those goods for 
oneself is not individual, the satisfaction of instinct and 
need; it is social. It is imitation and emulation, and these 
produce a lively demand. At first, perhaps, it is "mass com- 
forts" that satisfy city folk these show that one belongs; 
but then it is luxuries, for these give what Vebien used to 
call the "imputation of superiority/* by which a man who 
is not in close touch with his own easygoing nature can 
affirm himself as an individual, show he has style and taste, 
and is better. All this can take place only in a big city. 

Aristotle said long ago, "The appetite of man is infinite" 
it is infinitely suggestible. 

The heart of the city of expanding effective demand is 
the department store. This has been seen by many social 
critics, such as Charlie Chaplin, Lewis Mumford, and Lee 

Here all things are available according to desire, and are 
on display in order to suggest the desire. 

The streets are the corridors of the department store. 

Even/ worker today produces five times more than his grand- 
father did in 1880 (National Bureau of Economic Research). 

Then let us sum up this preliminary program for the city: 

1. A population of several million as the least economic 
(regional) unit. 

2. Production and market concentrated to minimize 
distribution services. 

3. The city concentrated to minimize city services. 

4. Work and life to center around the market. 

5. Morality of imitation and emulation. 

6. Decoration is display. 

7. Close by the open country, for full flight. 

On the Relation of Production and Consumption 

The community is zoned according to the acts of buying 
and using up. Now there are four classes of goods. 

First are the goods which have been produced and are 
consumed in the enjoyment of them. These are all the things 
to be bought in a great department store, creature com- 
forts of the body and spirit. Creaturely necessities styled to 
be comforts and luxuries, so they are desired as well as 

Three Community Paradigms 129 

needed, by the addition of titillation, form and color, nov- 
elty, and social imputation-the necessities that are perpetu- 
ally necessary again and whose satisfaction wears out and 
must be renewed. And such, for the spirit, are the popular 
arts; they serve for entertainment and distraction, and to 
communicate current news, feelings, and fads. These spiri- 
tual demands are perpetually renewed; for instance, an 
illustrated magazine a week old is worthless. Such, nega- 
tively, are the running repairs of medicine and social work. 
These products, physical comforts, popular arts, and medi- 
cine, that are periodically necessary and wear out, are the 
most marketable goods. (It is only in a vicious society that 
the more habitual needs, of form and truth, passion and 
sociality, and virtue, seem to be equally marketable.) 

Morleys theorem: the 
trisections of the angles 
of a triangle intersect in 
an equilateral triangle. 

Then the second class of goods are those which have been 
produced but are not consumed in the enjoyment. These 
are all the monuments of form and truth in the arts and sci- 
ences. Essentially not marketable at all, but their current 
presentation according to the prevailing fashion is market- 
able. Such goods are often wrongly called the culture of 
society, but it is rather the popular arts and journalism 
which are the culture, the principle of social cohesion. The 
great arts are humane, nearer to nature than culture: their 
social dress their popularity in their day soon becomes 
dated and "period." To signalize this difference, just as their 
enjoyment does not consume them, so their production is 
often distinguished by the name of creation. 


The third class of goods, those which are consumed in the 
enjoyment but are not produced by men, belong** nature 
immediately; they are the underlying and indispensable 
factors in any community: social and sexual intercourse, 
domestic life, ultimately everything pertaining to the pri- 
mary environment of parents, children, friends. It is daily 
life that is consumed but not produced; people draw on their 
own resources, to wear them out and to renew them for a 
while. It is here that the things bought at the market are 
used, for self-assurance and prestige, and because of lack of 
individual initiative; yet in the end the principle of the 
community in this zone must be spontaneous demand and 
naturally given resources, as in the family and the elemen- 
tary schools, relatively free from the suggestion and display 
which is the whole culture of the market itself. ( Thus, small 
boys must play sandlot ball; it is only in a vicious society 
that they are tricked, by unscrupulous clothiers and pub- 
licity-mad parents, into putting on the uniforms of the 
Little League. ) Apart from this freedom, the internal springs 
of demand dry up. 

Three Community Paradigms 131 

Lastly, there are the goods which are neither produced 
nor consumed: the stream of life itself and the permanent 
things of nature, recurring not by conscious reaching out but 
by unchanging laws of reproduction, growth, and death. 
They are created literally, and are not consumed but grow 
and die. For these, the standard of living is not comfort and 
luxury, but subsistence. Rural life, in relative poverty, repro- 
duces itself the most. In the community, this zone belongs 
essentially to the children and adolescents, and to those 
adults who are temporarily spent. The adults in their vigor 
are concerned mainly with culture, status, and pleasure. 

The four kinds of goods give us the four zones of the city. 

A Metropolitan Region 

We turn to the selection of industries. Now in general 
every external activity is planned on the principle of effi- 
ciency, the efficiency of means to achieve ends, where the 
means are somewhat external arrangements and the ends 
are more internal satisfactions. 

Bird's-eye view 

We shall see in our next chapter that if we consider the 
means of life also part of a man's internal time of life, the 
principle of efficiency becomes blurry; industries are se- 
lected on moral and psychological grounds. And in the 7th 
chapter, where we are concerned with freedom from control, 
we shall not ask much about the ends at all, but simply re- 
duce the means (of subsistence) to a minimum. But in this 
present discussion, a metropolitan region of efficient luxury, 
we can concentrate on quite definite ends: how the wealth 
of the external scene can by suggestion and gratification fill 
life and then efficiency is strictly a technical problem; how 
to produce the most with the least waste in non-productive 
services, transport, middlemen between producer and con- 
sumer. The principle of selection of industries is therefore 
the most possible light and heavy manufacture and agri- 
cultureup to the point where concentration is threatened 
by wasteful intermediaries. 

Taking an average of five major cities (1957) as our 
figure, we find that by the scientific use of existing tech- 
niques, the work of 4% million in light and heavy manu- 
facture, trade, and administration, and their residence, 
entertainment, education, and culture and all this with a 
spaciousness, where it is relevant, that is twice that of the 
best American standard can be concentrated in a circle five 

Three Community Paradigms 133 

miles in radius: a New York City that could He on Staten 
Island. And around this inner circle, a zone for the garden- 
ing of vegetables sufficient for the entire population and 
worked by the citizens themselves, spreads less than twenty 
miles additional. The beginning of open forest can be some- 
times 5, and never more than 25, miles from the center 
of the city. 

For the sake of exposition, let us choose an economy some- 
what Mice New York but with a greater proportion of heavy 
industry. Then we select the following livelihoods; 

Light manufactures, such as clothing and electrical 


Heavy manufacturing, such as motor cars or ships 
Business administration and advertising 
A market, for the region and the nation 
Entertainment, for the nation 
Agriculture, for the region 

The location of these businesses and industries is as fol- 
lows. All merchandising, both regional and national, is in 
the center where the buyers gather near the terminals and 
elevators. Administration is centralized for convenience of 
communication. Light manufacture is in the center, where 

Size of cities 


M ftvu yoitt 1,*00, 000 2 4,000 




its parts, already processed, can arrive and its exports leave 
from the central terminal. Heavy manufacture is on the out- 
skirts, shipping by rail or truck. Truck gardening is included 
because its farmers can live in the city, on the basis of the 
conservative figure of one acre to feed twenty-five; but dairy 
farming is excluded; requiring one acre for five, it spreads 
too far for convenient working by the city folk. The local 
airport, passenger and freight, is in the center. (Long dis- 
tance airport is at the outskirts.) 

The zoning of the community functions of the metropolis, 
however, is according to the fourfold relation of production 
and consumption, as analyzed above: (1) The market, 
populated by workers, traders, and transients, and including 
hotels, restaurants, popular arts, and terminals; (2) Arts, 
sciences, and the university; (3) Domestic life, consisting 
of neighborhoods, with their residences, elementary schools, 
hospitals, shops, and garages; and (4) Open country: a 
vacationland for all, with camps for children and junior col- 
leges for adolescents, among the forest preserves. 

The Center; 
Theory of Metropolitan Streets and Houses 

Our proposal to place the entire work and market center 
under one roof, as one immense container, once seemed 
extreme and sensational; today it is not unusual and reflec- 
tion will show that it is logical. 

In existing great cities, which have large buildings and 
congested downtown centers, there are always three simul- 
taneous systems of streets; the through highways (skyways, 
freeways, etc.); the old city-streets (avenues and side- 
streets); and the corridors of the large buildings. The 
through highways, coming more and more to be elevated 
or tunneled, carry the main stream of traffic uptown and 
to places outside the city. It is wrongly thought that by in- 
creasing these highways and so facilitating approach to the 
center, the traffic congestion can be thinned out; but in the 


Regional plan: 1. Market, light industry, offices, entertainment, 
hotels, and terminals 2. Culture,, universities, museums, zao S. 
Residences, schools, hospitals 4. Heavy industry, terminals, long 
distance airports 5. Forest preserves, vacationland 6. Agriculture. 

Log cabin to air-conditioned cylinder 


end all the highways must pour their cars into the city 
streets, for it is these streets that join building to building, 
and it is at a particular building, and not at downtown as 
a whole, that the motorist wants to arrive. Once he has 
arrived at the building, however, he is quite willing to leave 
his car (if there were a place to leave it) and go indoors and 
use the corridors and elevators of the building to bring him 
to the office or department where he has business. 

Under these conditions, of motor traffic and increasingly 
large buildings, the city-streets become pointless: they are 
useless for traveling and unfit for walking and window 
shopping. At the same time they cover 35% of the ground 
space and require the most costly and elaborate of the city 
services: paving, traffic control, cleaning, snow removal, 
etc. For servicing, they are neither properly in the open 
(so that snow, e.g., could be simply pushed aside) nor yet 
are they indoors (protected). These streets, then, serve as 
the perfect example of the intermediaries that waste away 
the social wealth and health. 

So we make of the many krge buildings one immense 
container. The intermediary streets vanish. They have 
merged with the internal corridors, which are now trans- 
figured and assume the functions of promenade and display 
which the street performed so badlyin summer too hot, in 
winter too cold. (What we propose is no different from the 
arcades or souks of hot North African countries.) And the 
through driveways now carry out their function to the end, 
bringing passengers and goods directly to stations in the 
container, without two speeds and without double loading 
for tracks and trains. This makes simple sense. 

Let us look at it from the opposite term of the relation, 
the building arrived at. The concept of a self-contained 
'liouse" has two extremes: at the one extreme is the private 
house on its land, with which it maintains a productive 
relation; at the other is the large building, containing many 
activities within its walls. In between we can trace a con- 
tinuous series from the allotment garden to the two-family 

Three Community Paradigms 137 

and semi-detached house to the tenement and the sky- 
scraper. Each point of this series answers best to particular 
conditions. But the pell-mell of buildings, large and smal, 
in a congested downtown district loses every function what- 
soever: the streets are no longer an environment; the build- 
ings must be lighted and ventilated in disregard of them; 
the real environment is increasingly distant; yet because of 
the crowding and competition for street space, and the need 
to have a dim illumination left for the streets, the interiors 
cannot expand to their proper spaciousness. Therefore we 
proceed to the extreme of merging the buildings. 

The gain in concentration is enormous, amounting to 
several hundred per cent. Even more remarkable is the 
saving in construction and servicing: in the entire down- 
town district there is now only one exterior wall and rigid 

A street floor in the air-conditioned cylinder; one mile in diam- 
eter, air-conditioned > brightly lit > -flexible space; transportation 
vertical, horizontal and diagonal; continuous interior show win- 
dow. The perimeter is for hotels and restaurants, air-conditioned 
but naturally lighted. 


roof to lose heat and cold. Lighting, ventilation, cleaning, 
and so forth can be handled on a uniform system. 

In a market economy, the concentration of display and 
convenience creates social wealth. We have the spaciousness 
and brilliance of a great department store. 

The center, then, is the container of the work, the public 
pleasures, and the market. Its population, at the busy hours, 
is about two and a half million. It is zoned as follows. The 
materials and products of light manufacturing go via the 
freight routes in the basement or the cargo planes that 
alight on the roof: the heart of industry is about in the 
middle. Business and administrative offices are in the upper 
and outer regions. The lower storiesmost immediately 
available to the citizens who come by bus or carhouse the 
stores and popular entertainments. In the outer envelope 
and in projecting spokes, with natural light and a good 
natural view, are the hotels and restaurants, opening out, 
on the ground floor, into the park of the university. Con- 
venient to all is the roof airport and the basement levels of 
parking and transit. 


In planning and decoration the center is a department 
store. Everywhere, in every corridor, as at a permanent 
fair, are on display the products that make it worthwhile to 
get up in the morning to go to work, and to work efficiently 
in order to have at the same time the most money and the 
most leisure. 

The genius of this fair is advertising. Advertising has 
learned to associate with the idea of commodities the deep- 
est and most various instincts of the soul. Poetry and paint- 
ing are advantageous to sales; the songs of musicians are 
bound inextricably to soaps and wines. The scientific curi- 
osity of men is piqued by industrial exhibits. The sentiments 
of brotherhood and ambition both make it imperative to 
buy something; sexual desire even more so. Also, the fear 







>7 FL00RS 


ft.p>. &ds 


A section through the air-conditioned cylinder: twenty stories of 
continuous rentable area without courts or yards; four stories of 
passenger terminals for air, railroad, and bus; one story for ter- 
minals for light manufacture, with deliveries direct to vertical 
transportation; the lowest level contains the ct/linder service 
(heat y cold, etc.) 

of loneliness or sexual failure make it impossible to omit to 
buy something. Mother love is a great promoter of sales. In 
this manner the integral man is involved in the economy. 
Once upon a time advertising was a means of informing 
the public that such and such a commodity was for sale 
and where it could be got. Later, advertising became com- 
petitive, persuasion to buy such and such a brand rather 
than any other brand. But in our time, among the largest 
companies and especially among those who have some- 
thing to sell, that is, perhaps, not absolutely necessary the 
competitive use of advertising is no longer the chief use; 
indeed these companies ("partial monopolies") confine 
themselves to the same amount and type of advertising in 
order not to compete to the death. But the chief use of 
advertising, in which the rivals cooperate, is to suggest to 
a wider public the need for the product which is not, per- 

Street scene in the cylinder: always perfect shopping weather 

haps, absolutely necessary. It is this new departure in adver- 
tising that gives one confidence in the economic feasibility 
of an expanding productivity. But such advertising must be 
given the right atmosphere in which to breathe. 

The University 

The next zone is the university, extending in a mile-wide 
ring around the center; this consists of theaters, opera 
houses, museums, libraries, lecture halls and laboratories 
of liberal arts and sciences, and everything that belongs to 
these. It is the region of the things created by man or dis- 
covered in nature, and not consumed in the enjoyment. 

This region, as we witness in our great cities and their 
universities, is the field of a deadly internecine strife: be- 
tween those who would integrate these classical creations 
and discoveries very closely into the culture of the center, 
and those who fear that this integration corrupts everything 
into hogwash. Thus, there is a great museum in New York 
City which alternates the exhibition of severe modern clas- 
sics of painting with the exhibition of advertising posters. 
The problem comes up as a problem of location: whether, 

Three Community Paradigms 141 

for instance, to locate among the humanities of the uni- 
versity such popular humanities as higher merchandising, 
or to locate these in the center as trade schools. There is no 
question, also, that the classics of art and science do enter 
into the nexus of exchange (e.g., paperbound books), and 
could be made to do so even more. On the other hand, such 
books are not consumed in the enjoyment, they do not have 
an expanding production, and to exploit them is penny- 
wise, pound-foolish. Careless popularization of the classics 
injures the solid economic value of illustrated weeklies. 
Humane education is necessary to keep things going at all, 
but too much of it makes people too simple. 

Provision is made in the park for thrashing out these and 
similar problems. There are outdoor cafes and places for 

Plan of the university: C, The Center 1. Natural history, zoos, 
aquariums, planetarium 2. Science, laboratories 3. Plastic arts 
4, Music and drama 



dancing, accessible to the transients from the hotels as they 
emerge from the center. 

Within the center, style and decoration present no diffi- 
culty. They are whatever is fashionable this season. To 
illustrate them for our purposes we need merely imitate 
what is highly correct in the spring of 1960 (taken from 
The New Yorker magazine). Such imitation would not be 
good decoration, for decoration requires an intuitive popu- 
lar sympathy, hard to keep up year after year unless one is 
in the business, but it would be like good decoration. 

But the style of the university is a different matter, and 
a thorny problem. What is the "future" style of something 
that is only an analytic model? Therefore we cannot show 
any illustration of the elevation. 


In modern community plans that take any account at all 
of amenity, there is always an idea of neighborhood, neigh- 
borhood blocks, as opposed to the endless addition of the 
city gridiron or of isolated dwellings in the suburbs. This 
is because it returns to the human scale and face-to-face 
acquaintance. And in the city of efficient consumption, too, 

Along a radial highway in a residential zone 

Three Community Paradigms 143 

the neighborhood is the primary unit of emulation and in- 
vidious imputation. 

We demonstrate this as follows. It is in the end unsatisfac- 
tory and indelicate to emulate, or to impute economic in- 
feriority to, one's family and friends; on the other hand, to 
do so with total strangers is pointless. Therefore, at least 
for domestic display, the unit of emulation and so forth must 
be the neighborhood. Residents of one's neighborhood take 
notice, judge one's clothes, see that the lawn is clipped; 
they are not so well known that one is embarrassed to show 
off to them; they do not know us well enough to see through 

The neighborhood must be a mixture of classes. Each 
class must be well enough represented to fortify each fam- 
ily *s security and to allow for the more subtle forms of impu- 
tation that are practiced among persons invited to one 
another's homes. But the juxtaposition of different classes is 
necessary in order to practice the grosser forms of emula- 
tion, which keep people on their toes. (For intraclass emula- 
tion is more likely to keep people on each other's toes, con- 
sidering that we make a personal as well as economic judg- 
ment of our friends.) In our fortunate city, there is no 
danger to the juxtaposition of even extreme classes, since all 
have goods and need not despair of getting more. 

We need, then, a neighborhood of a certain size, perhaps 
a few thousand. So we typically arrange the residences in 
neighborhood blocks of about 4000 population, in a con- 
tinuous apartment house around an open space of up to 
ten acres. Each block has its shops, tennis courts, nurseries, 
elementary schools, where the neighbors may commune and 
vie. It is not desirable for these neighborhoods to generate 
important local differences, for all must take their standards 
from the mass-produced peculiarities on sale at the center. 

This residential population is composed largely, up to 
40%, of older persons. This is the inevitable result of two 
trends increased longevity under improved medicine and 
the flight of young families to the suburbs. Our city has the 

Residences: the style of the whole is anonymous; the cell in- 

maximum of medicine, urbanism and wealth. Correspond- 
ingly, we have the perfection of a valetudinarian environ- 
ment: protected from the elements, air-conditioned, with 
smooth transportation, rapid service, all arranged not to 
excite the weak heart or demand agility from unsteady feet. 
The neighborhoods contain clinics, hospitals, and nursing 

It is an environment of space, food, sunlight, games, and 
quiet entertainment, whose standard requirements, largely 
biological and psychological, are agreed on by everybody, 


The idea of feudal Anglo-Saxon law that "a man's home 
is his castle" came to refer to the situation of the gentry, in 
which the house and its land maintained a productive rela- 
tion of comparative self-sufficiency. Take away the land 
and the idea is seriously weakened. And as community 
domestic services-light, gas, water-invade the house, its 
architectural meaning vanishes. Finally, such services can 
be provided efficiently only in an apartment house. The 
apartments are increasingly mass-produced and the houses 
become larger. 

Three Community Paradigms 145 

The problem is how to establish a contrary movement, 
to restore family choice and freedom in the new architec- 
tural conditions. The reality of a house is the space within 
(Bruno Zevi) . Let us restrict the imposition of the architect 
to its minimum function, the provision of efficient shelter 
and services. We then provide for each family an empty 
shell without partitions and (for the rich) two stories high, 
completely serviced with light, conditioned air, water, and 
so forth, through the columns of the building as in an office 
building. Hitherto architectural practice has provided not 
only such a serviced shell but also the imitation of a house, 
with plan and fundamental decoration complete, partitions, 
paneling, balcony, etc. But these parts have no structural 
nor technical necessity and belong to private taste, need, or 
caprice; they need not be standard. 

Street plan in a residential district 

I- .r. ......._ . .....<! .:>> C-----VU: 


Residential space: at the kft, a comer of a residential block 
showing an arcade and its local shops; above it a pneumatic de- 
livery system operating from the City-Center (for packages up 
to a yard in diameter). The rest shows a typical apartment space, 
rented as a bare loft and made livable and/or expensive accord- 
ing to individual taste and/or fancy. 

Open Country 

The last zone is the open country. This appears suddenly, 
not straggling into being amid outlying homes, factories, 
and cultivated fields, as if marking the exhaustion of the 
energies of the city, but full of the ambivalent energy of 
society, as nightmare and waking are parts of the same life. 
For a dream (but which is the dream, the city or the 
woods?) is not a temperate expression of the repressed de- 
sires of the day, but a strange flowering of them, often too 
rich to bear. In this vacationland there is exchanged for the 
existence where everything is done for you, the existence 
where nothing is done for you. You have, who venture there, 
the causality of your own hands, and the gifts of nature. 

These conditions are hard for city folk and they are finally 
moderated-after, say, 50 miles, three-quarters of an hour 

Three Community Paradigms 147 

by car or 15 minutes by helicopter into the imitation wild- 
ness of state parks and the bathos of adult camps. 

Perhaps in this moderate and forgetful forest can be in- 
itiated the procreation which is impossible to initiate by 
urban standards. 

Children are here conveniently disposed of in camps dur- 
ing the summer season. 

It seems wise to locate in the open region the age of 
adolescence, and its junior colleges. Here is space for its 
unconventional moods and violent play. This group, more 
than any other, wants to be alone with its contemporaries in 
small communities; it is impatient of the old and young, 
meaning anybody five years older or two years younger. 

As civilization becomes more complex and demanding, 
the problem of psychological initiation into culture becomes 
more pressing. Now the small child, brought up in the 
metropolis, remembers, rather unconsciously than conscious- 
ly, the elegance of his mother at home still elegance to 
him, even when it is contrived of cheap cosmetics. But 
the adolescent, given to rebellion, is encouraged, by a more 
animal existence in the open country. And we know that 
as his longings settle into habitual desires, it is the environ- 
ment of adult achievement that seems attractive to him; 
he has been away from it ? and "nothing increases relish 
like a fast." In hundredfold strength the impressions of 
childhood have him in grip. Then the university, the school 
of adults both young and old, glorifies the values of the 
city in its popular humanities, and in its pure humanities it 
provides the symbols of reasonable sublimation for those 
who come by destiny to see through the machinery. 

Such then are the four zones of the city. 


There is no direct political initiative to make either cen- 
tral or neighborhood policy. For the expanding economy 
exists more and more in its nice interrelationships and is 


ran by a corporation of technologists, merchandisers, and 
semi-economists as directors. Periodic elections are like 
other sales campaigns, to choose one or another brand 
name of a basically identical commodity. 

An existence of this kind, apparently so repugnant to 
craftsmen, farmers, artists, or any others who want a say in 
what they lend their hands to, is nevertheless satisfactory 
to the mass of our countrymen, so it must express deep and 
universal impulses. These probably center around what 
Morris Cohen used to call the first principle of politics, 
inertia; that is, that people do not want to take the trouble 
to decide political issues because, presumably, they have 
more important things on their minds. 

But in fact the most powerful influence that people exer- 
cise, and would exert even more powerfully in a city of 
efficient consumption, is the economic choice to buy or not 
to buy a product and to be employed in this or that factory 
or office. We are not speaking of such strenuous efforts as 
boycotts or strikes, but of the delicate pressures of the 
market, which in a market of luxuries and a production of 
full employment profoundly effect particular brands, with- 
out disturbing the system as a whole. In our society even 
great captains of industry and princes of merchandise who, 
one would have thought, would have freedom to do it 
their own way, cannot step out of line. A famous manu- 
facturer, for instance, is said to have believed in the trans- 
migration of souls, but he was not allowed by his public 
relations department to proselytize to this belief because it 
might seem odd to potential customers. Everybody who has 
a penny can influence society by his choice, and everybody 
has, in principle, a penny. 

Thus, there is direct social initiative neither from above 
nor below. This explains the simply unbearable quality of 
facade or "front" in American public thought: nobody 
speaks for himself, it is always an Organization (limited 
liability) that speaks. 

Wish fulfillment of an efficient consumer 


But now comes what is proper to great cities a season 
of carnival, when the boundaries are overridden between 
zone and zone, and the social order is loosed to the equalities 
and inequalities of nature. "A holiday," said Freud, "is a 
permitted, rather than a proscribed, excess; it is the solemn 
violation of a prohibition/' 

Yet it is not necessary to imagine any astonishing antics 
and ceremonies of carnival; for as society becomes more 
extensively and intensively organized in its means of liveli- 
hood, any simple gesture occurring in the ways of life is 
already astounding, just as in Imperial Germany to walk 
across the grass was a revolutionary act. By day-to-day ac- 
quiescence and cooperation, people put on die habit of some 
society or other whether a society of consuming goods or 
some other makes no difference, so long as there are real 
satisfactions. Meantime, submerged impulses of excess and 
destruction gather force and periodically explode in wild 

150 COM M U N I T A S 

public holidays or gigantic wars. (There is also occasional 
private collapse.) 

The carnival, to describe it systematically, would be 
simply the negation of all the schedules and careful zoning 
that are full of satisfaction in their affirmation. No one can 
resist a thrill when a blizzard piles up in the streets and the 
traffic stops dead. The rumor of a hurricane brings out our 
child souls and much community spirit. 

Describing the Saturnalia of the Roman Empire, an old 
writer gives the following particulars: "During its continu- 
ance, the utmost liberty prevailed: all was mirth and fes- 
tivity; friends made presents to each other; schools were 
closed; the Senate did not sit; no war was proclaimed, no 
criminal executed; slaves were permitted to jest with their 
masters, and were even waited on at table by them. This 
last circumstance was probably founded on the original 
equality between master and slave, the latter having been, 
in the early times of Rome, usually a captive taken in the 
war or an insolvent debtor 9 and consequently originally the 
equal of his master . . . According to some, the Saturnalia 
was emblematic of the freedom enjoyed in the golden age, 
when Saturn ruled over Italy." 

During the carnival in the city of efficient consumption 
a peculiar incident sometimes occurs. At one of the auto- 
matic cafeterias in the center where, on the insertion of a 
coin, coffee and cream pour from twin faucets and neatly 
fill a cup to the brim, this machine breaks downall nature 
conspiring in the season of joy and the coffee and cream 
keep flowing and do not stop, superabounding, overflowing 
the cup, splashing onto the floor; many cups can be filled 
from the same source. (This is not so absurd, it happened 
to our mother once in Minneapolis.) Then gathers a crowd 
and a cheer goes up as they indulge in inefficient con- 

Installment debts are forgiven. And with the pressure of 
instalment-payments removed, people swing to the opposite 
extreme and don't work at all: they fail to provide even for 

Three Community Paradigms 151 

the day's necessities and begin to eat up the capita! invest- 
ment. They consume the reserve piled up on the market. 
The economy apparently ceases to expand (but its shelves 
are merely being cleared for new fashions). 

In the factories, basketball courts are rigged up, emblem- 
atic of the sit-down strikes that occurred in America in 1935. 

The people are not really idle, but only economically so. 
They are feverishly preparing and launching immense 
floats; works of imperishable form there is a classic tradi- 
tion of the forms but made of the most perishable materials 
possible, papier mache, soap, ice. These floats, after pa- 
rading through the streets, are destroyed without residue: 
the paper is pushed into bonfires, toasts a moment, and 
leaps up in a puff of flame, through which the deathless 
form seems to shine one last moment after its matter has 
vanished. The soap is deluged by hoses and dissolves in 
lather and iridescent bubbles; and the forms of ice are left 
to melt slowly away in the brilliant darts of the sun. 

At home people engage in rudimentary domestic industry 
and in the imitation of self-sufficient family economy. It is 
customary for each family to engage in a little agriculture 
in the closet and grow mushrooms, the fungus impudicus 
that springs up in the night like the phallus. Women devote 
themselves to the home-manufacture of a kind of spaghetti 
or noodles, and from all the windows in the residential 
neighborhoods can be seen, hanging from poles and drying 
in the sun, such fringes of spaghetti or noodles. Wood ires 
are lit from sticks of furniture going out of fashion, and 
meals are prepared of noodles or spaghetti with mushroom 

It is during this week that there is the highest hope of 
engendering children, not to have to rely exclusively on 
the immigration of the tribes beyond the forest. 

From the forest invade mummers in the guise of wolves 
and bears. These wolves and bears (students from the 
junior colleges) prowl and dance among the monuments 
of urbanism. They sniff along the superhighways by moon- 



light, and they browse among the deserted rows of seats in 
cinemas, where candv is left for them to eat. By their antics, 
they express astonishment at these places. 

Thus, finally, can be observed the dread sight that poets, 
ancient and modem, have seen in visions: of wolves prowl- 
ing by moonlight in the deserted streets of cities. So now 
when the coffee and cream have soured among the legs of 
the tables, and the shelves are bare; when only the smoke 
is arising from the pyres and the bubbles have collapsed, 
and there are puddles where stood the statues of ice; and 
when the city folk are asleep, gorged with their meal and 
with love; the streets are deserted; now by moonlight come 
these wolves, rapidly up the wrong side of the streets and 
prowling in empty theaters where perhaps the picture ( that 
the operator neglected to turn off) is still flickering on the 
screen, to no audience. 

Next day, however, when the carnival is over and the 
rubbish is efficiently cleared away by the post-carnival 
squad, it can be seen that our city has suffered no loss. 
The shelves have been cleared for the springtime fashions; 
debtors have been given new heart to borrow again; and 
plenty of worn-out chattels have been cleaned out of the 
closets and burnt 



A New Community; 

The Elimination of the Difference between 
Production and Consumption 

Quarantining the Work, 
Quarantining the Homes 

Men like to make things, to handle the materials and see 
them take shape and come out as desired, and they are 
proud of the products. And men like to work and be useful, 
for work has a rhythm and springs from spontaneous feel- 
ings jest like play, and to be useful makes people feel right. 
Productive work is a kind of creation, it is an extension 
of human personality into nature. But it is also true that the 
private or state capitalist relations of production, and ma- 
chine industry as it now exists under whatever system, have 
so far destroyed the instinctive pleasures of work that 
economic work is what all ordinary men dislike. (Yet un- 
employment is dreaded, and people who don't like their 
work don't know what to do with their leisure. ) In capitalist 
or state-socialist economies, efficiency is measured by profits 
and expansion rather than by handling the means. Mass 
production, analyzing the acts of kbor into small steps and 
distributing the products far from home, destroys the sense 
of creating anything. Rhythm, neatness, style belong to the 
machine rather than to the man. 

The division of economy into production and consumption 
as two opposite poles means that we are far from the condi- 
tions in which work could be a way of life. A way of life 
requires merging the means in the end, and work would 


154 C O M M U N I T A S 

have to be thought of as a continuous process of satisfying 
activity, satisfying in itself and satisfying in its useful end. 
Such considerations have led many moralist-economists to 
want to turn back the clock to conditions of handicraft in 
a limited society, where the relations of guilds and small 
markets allow the master craftsmen a say and a hand in 
every phase of production, distribution, and consumption. 
Can we achieve the same values with modern technology, 
a national economy, and a democratic society? With this 
aim, let us reanalyze efficiency and machine production. 

Characteristic of American offices and factories is the 
severe discipline with regard to punctuality. ( In some states 
the law requires time clocks, to protect labor and calculate 
the insurance.) Xow no doubt in many cases where workers 
cooperate in teams, where business is timed by the mails, 
where machines use a temporary source of power, being on 
time and on the same time as everybody else is essential 
to efficiency. But by and large it would make little difference 
at what hour each man's work began and ended, so long as 
the job itself was done. Often the work could be done at 
home or on the premises indifferently, or part here part 
there. Yet this laxity is never allowed, except in the typical 
instances of hack-writing or commercial art typical because 
these workers have an uneasy relation to the economy in 
any case. (There is a lovely story of how William Faulkner 
asked M-G-M if he could work at home, and when they 
said, "Of course," he went back to Oxford, Mississippi.) 

Punctuality is demanded not primarily for efficiency but 
for the discipline itself. Discipline is necessary because the 
work is onerous; perhaps it makes the idea of working even 
more onerous, but it makes the work itself much more 
tolerable, for it is a structure, a decision. Discipline estab- 
lishes the work in an impersonal secondary environment 
where, once one has gotten out of bed early in the morning, 
the rest easily follows. Regulation of time, separation from 
the personal environment: these are signs that work is not 
a way of life; they are the methods by which, for better or 

Three Community Paradigms 155 

worse, work that cannot be energized directly by persona! 
concern can get done, unconfused by personal concern. 

In the Garden City plans, they "quarantined the tech- 
nology" from the homes; more generally, we quarantine the 
work from the homes. But it is even truer to say that we 
quarantine the homes from the work. For instance, it is 
calamitous for a man's wife or children to visit him at work; 
this privilege is reserved for the highest bosses. 

Reanalyzing Production 

In planning a region of satisfying industrial work, we 
therefore take account of four main principles: 

1. A closer relation of the personal and productive en- 
vironments, making punctuality reasonable instead of dis- 
ciplinary, and introducing phases of home and small-shop 
production; and vice versa, finding appropriate technical 
uses for personal relations that have come to be considered 

2. A role for all workers in all stages of the production 
of the product; for experienced workers a voice and hand 
in the design of the product and the design and operation 
of the machines; and for al a political voice on the basis 
of what they know best, their specific industry, in the 
national economy. 

3. A schedule of work designed on psychological and 
moral as well as technical grounds, to give the most well- 
rounded employment to each person^ in a diversified en- 
vironment. Even in technology and economics, the men are 
ends as well as means. 

4. Relatively small units with relative self-sufficiency, so 
that each community can enter into a larger whole with 
solidarity and independence of viewpoint. 

These principles are mutually interdependent. 

1. To undo the present separation of work and home 
environments, we can proceed both ways: (a) Return cer- 
tain parts of production to home-shops or near home; and 


(b) Introduce domestic work and certain productive family- 
relations, which are now not considered part of the economy 
at all, into the style and relations of the larger economy. 

(a) Think of the present proliferation of machine-tools. 
It could once be said that the sewing machine was the only 
widely distributed productive machine; but now, especially 
because of the last war, the idea of thousands of small ma- 
chine shops, powered by electricity, has became familiar; 
and small power-tools are a best-selling commodity. In 
general, the change from coal and steam to electricity and 
oil has relaxed one of the greatest causes for concentration 
of machinery around a single driving-shaft. 

(b) Borsodi, going back to the economics of Aristotle, 
has proved, often with hilarious realism, that home produc- 
tion, such as cooking, cleaning, mending, and entertaining 
has a formidable economic, though not cash, value. The 
problem is to lighten and enrich home production by the 
technical means and some of the expert attitudes of public 
production, but without destroying its individuality. 

But the chief part of finding a satisfactory productive life 
in homes and families consists in the analysis of personal 
relations and conditions: e.g., the productive cooperation of 
man and wife as it exists on farms, or the productive capa- 
bilities of children and old folk, now economically excluded. 
This involves sentimental and moral problems of extreme 
depth and delicacy that could only be solved by the experi- 
ments of integrated communities. 

2. A chief cause of the absurdity of industrial work is 
that each machine worker is acquainted with only a few 
processes, not the whole order of production. And the 
thousands of products are distributed he knows not how or 
where. Efficiency is organized from above by expert man- 
agers who first analyze production into its simple processes, 
then synthesize these into combinations built into the ma- 
chines, then arrange the logistics of supplies, etc., and then 
assign the jobs. 

As against this efficiency organized from above, we must 

Three Community Paradigms 157 

try to give this function to the workers. This is feasible only 
if the workers have a total grasp of all the operations. There 
must be a school of industry, academic and not immediately 
productive, connected with the factory. Now let us distin- 
guish apprentices and graduates. To the apprentices, along 
with their schooling, is assigned the more monotonous work; 
to the graduates, the executive and coordinating work, the 
fine work, the finishing touches. The masterpiece that gradu- 
ates an apprentice is a new invention, method, or other 
practical contribution advancing the industry. The masters 
are teachers, and as part of their job hold free discussions 
looking to basic changes. 

Such a setup detracts greatly from the schedule of con- 
tinuous production; but it is a question whether it would 
not prove more efficient in the long run to have the men 
working for themselves and having a say in the distribution. 
By this we do not mean merely economic democracy or 
socialist ownership. These are necessary checks but are not 
the political meaning of industrialism as such. What is 
needed is the organization of economic democracy on the 
basis of the productive units, where each unit, relying on its 
own expertness and the bargaining power of what it has to 
offer, cooperates with the whole of society. This is syndi- 
calism, simply an industrial town meeting. To guarantee the 
independent power of each productive unit, it must have 
a relative regional self-sufficiency; this is the union of farm 
and factory. 

3. Machine work in its present form is often stultifying, 
not a "way of life." The remedy is to assign work on psycho- 
logical and moral as well as technical and economic grounds. 
The object is to provide a well-rounded employment. Work 
can be divided as team work and individual work, or physi- 
cal work and intellectual work. And industries can be com- 
bined in a neighborhood to give the right variety. For 
instance, cast glass, blown glass, and optical instruments; 
or more generally, industry and agriculture, and factory and 
domestic work. Probably most important, but difficult to 


C O M M U N I T A S 

conjure with, Is the division in terms of faculties and powers, 
routine and initiation, obeying and commanding. 

The problem is to envisage a well-rounded schedule of 
Jobs for each man, and to arrange the buildings and the 
farms so that the schedule Is feasible. 

4. The Integration of factory and farm brings us to the 
idea of -regionalism and regional relative autonomy. These 
are the following main parts: 

(a) Diversified farming as the basis of self -subsistence 
and, therefore, small urban centers (200,000). 

(b) A number of mutually dependent industrial centers, 
so that an important part of the national economy Is firmly 

The town and its environs: 1. City squares. 2. and S. Diversified 

farms accommodating all the children and their schools (the 
parents who work in the squares will generally live in the inner 
belt) 4. Industrialized agriculture and dairying 5. Open country, 
grazing, etc. 

The city squares and farms within bicycle dMance; the principle 
of the plan is that, except for the numnce fact@ : rie$ on the out- 

sJcirfe, none of the community or domestic functions is zoned in 
isolation. Thus the squares toil! be formed by libraries, factories, 
dweflfags, storey schools, restaurants, etc., as function, appear- 
ance, and community sentiment dictate (cf. Printing Square, 
p. IBS). 1, Airport and interregional market 2. Express highways, 
green beti, md nuisance factories 3. Four-acre farms, urban 
parents dwellings and elementary schools. The peripheral roads, 
bordering the "hexagon of city squares and arcing the local 
automobile and truck traffic, pass under or over the express roads 
or conned with them by ramp. 

160 C O M M U N I T A S 

controlled. (Hie thought is always to have freedom secured 
by real power.) 

( c) These industries developed around regional resources 
of field, mine, and power. 

Diversified farmers can be independent, and small farms 
have therefore always been a basis of social stability, though 
not necessarily of peasant conservatism. On the other hand, 
for the machines now desirable, the farmer needs cash and 
links himself with the larger economy of the town. 

The political problem of the industrial worker is the re- 
verse, since every industry is completely dependent on the 
national economy, for both materials and distribution. But 
by regional interdependence of industries and the close in- 
tegration of factory and farm work factory workers taking 
over in the fields at peak seasons, farmers doing factory 
work in the winter; town people, especially children, living 
in the country; farmers domestically making small parts 
for the factories the industrial region as a whole can secure 
for itself independent bargaining power in the national 

The general sign of this federal system is the distinction 
of the local regional market from the national market. In 
transport, the local market is served by foot, bicycle, cart, 
and car; the national market by plane and trailer-truck. 

(Now all of this decentralized units, double markets, 
the selection of industries on political and psychological as 
well as economic and technical grounds all this seems a 
strange and roundabout way of achieving an integrated na- 
tional economy, when at present this unity already exists 
with a tightness that leaves nothing to be desired, and an 
efficiency that is even excessive. But we are aiming at a 
different standard of efficiency, one in which invention will 
flourish and the job will be its own incentive; and most 
important, at the highest and nearest ideals of external life: 
liberty, responsibility, self-esteem as a workman, and initi- 
ative. Compared with these aims the present system has 
nothing to offer us. ) 

Three Community Paradigms 161 

A Schedule and Its Model 



(numerals equal months} 

Basic Work t ^ 2j 

I g c a 


Factory 8(a) 6 1 

Industrial Agriculture 3(d) 2(d) V 1 

Diversified Agriculture (8 V V 

Domestic Industry- 18 V(e) 1 

Formal and Teclmical 

Learning 2(b) l(b) 

Teclrnieal Teaching l(b) l(b) 

General Education V 5 

Study and Travel 2(f) 

Individual Work (c) 2 

Unscheduled (g) 1 1 1 1 V 1 

Notes on the Schedule 

( a ) The factory* work of the master workman and workwoman 

includes executive and fine work. 

{ b ) The time of technical education runs concurrently with the 

working period. 

( c ) Graduate work at one's own time and place could be in a 

traveling trailer 0r country cottage; could comprise designing, 

162 C O M M U X I T A S 

drafting, assemblage of hand-assembled wholes (e.g., radios or 
clocks), finishing operations (lens- grinding), etc. 

(d) Master fanmvork in industrial agriculture includes super- 
vision and maintenance and is divided cooperatively to spread 
over the year. The more mechanical work at peak seasons is done 
bv the factory apprentices. 

(e) Farm-family industry includes the making of parts for the 
factories, cooperation with industrial agriculture (e.g., field 
kitchens), educational care of boarding city children. 

{) The spread of activity of the youth over many categories, 

i icluding two months of travel, gives them an acquaintance with 

the different possibilities. 

(g) Activity at one's own fancy or imagination vocational, 

avocatkmal, recreational, etc. 

(V) Activities engaged in as occasion arises. 

A Piazza in the Town 

With us at present in America, a man who is fortunate 
enough to have useful and important work to do that is 
caled for and socially accepted, work that has initiative and 
exercises his best energies such a man (he is one in a 
thousand among us) is likely to work not only very hard 
but too hard; he finds himself, as if compulsively, always 
going back to his meaningful job, as if the leisurely pursuits 
of society were not attractive. But we would hope that where 
every man has such work, where society is organized only 
to guarantee that he has, that people will have a more good- 
humored and easygoing attitude. Not desiring to get away 
from their work to a leisure that amounts to very little (for 
where there is no man's work there is no man's play) , people 
will be leisurely about their work it is all, one way or an- 
other, making use of the time. 

Now, the new community has dosed squares like those 
described by Camilo Sitte. Such squares are the definition 
of a city. 

Squares are not avenues of motor or pedestrian traffic, 
but are places where people remain. Place of work and 


A square in the town: integration of work,, love and knowledge 

home are close at hand, but in the city square is what is still 

more interesting the other people. 

The easygoing leisure of piazzas is a long simple interim, 
just as easygoing people nowadays are often happiest on 
train trips or driving to work, the time in-between. Con- 
science is clear because a useful task will begin at a set time 
(not soon) . The workers of the new community give them- 
selves long lunchtimes indeed. For, supposing ten men are 
needed on a machine or a line for four hours' work: they 
arrange to start sometime in midaftemoon, and where 
should they ind each other, to begin, but in the piazza. 



On one side of the piazza opens the factory; another en- 
trance is a smaE library, provided with ashtrays. As in all 
other squares, there is a clock with bells; it's a reminder, 
riot a tyrant. 

The leisure of piazzas is made of repetitive small pleas- 
ures like feeding pigeons and watching a fountain. These 
are ways of being with the other people and striking up 
conversations. It is essential to have outdoor and indoor 
tables with drinks and small food. 

There is the noise of hammering, and the explosions of 
tuning a motor, from small shops a little way off. But if it's 
a quieter square, there may be musicians. Colored linen 
and silk are blowing on a line not flags but washing! For 
everything is mixed up here. At the same time, there is 
something of the formality of a college campus. 

A busy square 

A quiet square 

Another face of the piazza is an apartment house, where 
an. urban family is making a meal They go about this as 
follows. The ground floor of the building is not only a 
restaurant but a f oodstore; the farmers deliver their produce 
here. The family cooks upstairs, phones down for their 
uncooked meat, vegetables, salad, and fixings, and these 
are delivered by dumbwaiter, cleaned and peeled the pota- 
toes peeled and spinach washed by machine. They 'dress 
and season the roast to taste and send it back with the 
message; "Medium rare about 1845, w The husband ob- 
serves, unfortunately for the twentieth time, that when he 
was a student in Paris a baker on the comer used to roast 
their chickens in Ms oven. Simpler folk, who live in smaller 
row houses up the block, consider this procedure a lot of 
foolishness; they just shop for their food, prepare it them- 
selves, cook it, and eat it. But they don't have factory jobs: 
they ran a lathe in the basement. 

The main exit from the square is almost cut off by a 
monument with an inscription,. But we cannot decipher the 
future inscription. Trie square seems enclosed. 

In the famous piazzas described and measured in all their 

166 C O M M U N I T A S 

asymmetry by Camilla Sitte, the principal building, the 
building that gives its name to the place, as the Piazza San 
Marco or the Piazza dei Signori, is a church, town hall or 
guild hall. What are such principal buildings in the squares 
we are here describing? We don't know. 

The windmill and water tower here, that work the foun- 
tain and make the pool, were put up gratuitously simply 
because such an ingenious machine is beautiful. 

A Farm and Its Children 

Let us rear all the children in the natural environment 
where they are many and furnish a society for one another. 
This has an immense pedagogic advantage, for the business 
of the country environment is plain to the eyes, it is not 
concealed in accounts and factories. The mechanism of 
urban production is clear to adult minds; the nature of farm 
production is not much clearer to the adults than to the 
children of ten or eleven. 

Integrating town and country, we are able to remedy the 
present injustice whereby the country bears the burden of 
rearing and educating more than its share of the population, 
then loses 50% of the investment at maturity. (And then 
the cities complain that the youth have been educated on 
rural standards!) If the city children go to the country 
schools, the city bears its pro rata share of the cost and has 
the right to a say in the policy. 

The parents who work in the city live in small houses 
on nearby farms: that is home for the children. But when 
they leave for work, the children are not alone but are still 
at home on the farm. Some such arrangement is necessary, 
for it is obvious that we cannot, as the urban home continues 
to break down, be satisied with the pathos of creches, 
nursery-schools, and kindergartens. 

To the farmers, the city families are the most valuable 
source of money income. 

The best society for growing children, past the age of 


GSSi&y v \e?^-rCs^^sN/ 1> \ /\ 

Disposition of farm production. The principle of the diversified 
farm is symbiosis, with a minimum of artificial fertilizer; city 
sewage, enriched by the products of the farm, is piped back to 
fertilize the hnd. 

total dependency, is other children, older and younger by 
easy grades. It is a rough society but characterized at worst 
by conflict rather than by loving, absolute authority. These 
children, then, no longer sleep with their parents, but in a 

From quite early, children are set to work feeding the 
animals and doing chores that are occasionally too hard for 
them. Perhaps urban sentiment can here alleviate the condi- 
tion of farm and city children botk 

Everybody praises diversified, farming as a way of life. 
Yet the farm youth migrate to the city when they can. (Just 
as everybody praises lovely Ireland, but the young Irish 
leave in droves.) This: is inevitable when al the advertised 



social values, broadcast by radio and cinema, are urban 
values. It is universally admitted that these values are clap- 
trap; but they are more attractive than nothing. To counter- 
act this propaganda, the farm-sociologists try to establish a 
social opinion specifically rural, they revive square dances 
and have 4-H clubs and contests, organized by the farmers' 
collectives and cooperatives. 

But is it necessary for "farm" and "city" to compete? All 
values are human values. 

The yard; the house is bulk of prefabricated and bed materials. 

First floor: large space for gathering and food, a room for do- 
mestic industry, a room for the children's play and study near 
the work room and the farmyard. Second floor: skepiag 



Three Community Paradigms 


Interior of the gathering-space and view from the road. A com- 
bination of handwork and prefabrication. The painting (after 
Uondrian) is not -placed against a -painted wall 

170 C O M M U N I T A S 

Regional and National Economy 

The large number of diversified farms means, on the one 
hand, that the region is self-subsistent, but on the other 
that the farmers have little crop to export outside the region. 
Their cash comes, however, from the city market, from 
domestic industry, from some industrial agriculture, and 
from housing the city folk. If farmers have a specialized 
crop, such as grapes or cotton, it is processed in the town. 
All this guarantees a tight local economy. 

Now, even apart from political freedom, such a tight 
local economy is essential if there is to be a close relation 
between production and consumption, for it means that 
prices and the value of labor will not be so subject to the 
fluctuations of the vast general market. A man's work, mean- 
ingful during production, will somewhat carry through the 
distribution and what he gets in return. That is, within 
limits, the nearer a system gets to simple household econ- 
omy, the more it is an economy of specific things and serv- 
ices that are bartered, rather than an economy of generalized 

"Economy of things rather than money" this formula 
is the essence of regionalism. The persons of a region draw 
on their local resources and cooperate directly, without the 
intermediary of national bookkeeping with its millions of 
clashing motives never resoluble face-to-face. The regional 
development of the TVA, brought together power and fer- 
tilizer for farms, navigation and the prevention of erosion, 
the control of floods and the processing of foods, national 
recreation, and in this natural cooperation it produced a 
host of ingenious inventions. All of this (in its inception) 
was carried on in relative autonomy, under the loose head- 
ing of "general welfare." 

The kind of life looked for in this new community de- 
pends on the awareness of local distinctness, and this is 
also the condition of political freedom as a group of indus- 

Three Communitij Paradigms 171 

tries and farm cooperatives, rather than as a multitude of 
abstract votes and consumers with cash. 

Yet every machine economy is a national and interna- 
tional economy. The fraction of necessary goods that can 
be produced in a planned region is very substantial, but it 
is still a fraction. And this fact is the salvation of regionalism! 
For otherwise regionalism succumbs to provincialism 
whether we consider art or literature, or the characters of 
the people, or the fashions in technology. The regional in- 
dustrialists in their meeting find that, just because their 
region is strong and productive, they are subject to wide 
circles of influence, they have to keep up. 


Let us try to envisage the moral ideal of such a com- 
munity as we are describing. 

In tiie luxury city of consumers' goods, society was geared 
to an expanding economy capital investment and consurop- 



1. Utility (Functionalist B. Constructlvisf beauty 

3. Relative independence 

2. Transparency of of machine from non- 
Operation ubiquitous power 

A. Repasrabilify by the 4. Proportion between 

average well-edu- total effort and utility 

cated person (Neo-Funciionalist 

(Freedom) beauty) 


tion had to expand at all costs, or even especially at all 
costs. In the third community that we shall describe in this 
book, "maximum security, minimum regulation," we shall 
find that, in order to achieve the aim of social security and 
human liberty, a part of the economy must never be allowed 
to expand at all. 

But in this present, middle-of-the-road, plan there is 
no reason why the economy either must expand or must not 
expand. Every issue is particular and comes down to the 
particular question: "Is it worthwhile to expand along this 
new line? Is it worth the trouble to continue along that old 

This attitude is a delicate one, hard for us Americans to 
grasp clearly: we always like to do it bigger and better, or 
we jump to something new, or we cling. But when people 
are accustomed to knowing what they are lending their 
hands to, when they know the operations and the returns, 
when they don't have to prove something competitively, 
then they are just in the business, so to speak, of judging the 
relation o means and ends. They are all efficiency experts. 
And then, curiously, they may soon hit on a new conception 
of efficiency itself, very unlike that of the engineers of 
Veblen. When they can say, "It would be more efficient to 
make it this way," they may go on to say, "And it would 
be even more efficient to forget it altogether/* 

Efficient for what? For the way of life as a wiiole. Now 
in all times honorable people have used this criterion as a 
negative check: "We don't do that kind of thing, even if it's 
convenient or profitable." But envisage doing it positively 
and inventively: "Let's do it, it becomes us. Or let's omit it 
and simplify, it's a lag and a drag." 

Suppose that one of the masters, away on his two months 
of individual work, drafting designs for furniture, should, 
having studied the furniture of the Japanese, decide to dis- 
pense with chairs. Such a problem might create a bitter 
struggle in the national economy, one thing leading to 

The economy, like any machine economy, would expand, 

Chairs kept us off the drafty, muddy floor but if we dont hate 
mud floors and do hate radiant heating why chairs? 

for It creates a surplus. It would expand into refinement. 
The Japanese way is a powerful example. They cover the 
loor with deep washable mats and dispense with chairs 
and dispense with the floor. It is too much trouble to clutter 
the room with furniture. It is not too much trouble to lavish 
many days* work on the minute carving on the inside of a 
finger pull of a shoji. They dispense 'with the upholstery but 
take pains in arranging the lowers. They do not build 
permanent partitions in a room because the activities of 
life are always varying. 

When production becomes an integral part of life, the 
workman becomes an artist. It is the definition of an artist 
that he follows the medium., and finds new possibilities of 
expression in it. He is not bound by the fact that things 
have always been made in a certain way, nor even by the 
fact that it is these things that have been made. Our indus- 
trialistseven International Business Machines are very 

174 C O M M U N I T A S 

much concerned these days to get "creative" people, and 
they make psychological studies on how to foster an "atmos- 
phere of creativity"; but they don't sufficiently conjure with 
the awful possibility that truly creative people might tell 
them to shut up shop. They wash to use creativity in just 
the way that it cannot be used, for it is a process that also 
generates its own ends. 

Notes on Neo-Functionalism: 
the Ailanthus and the Morning-Glory 

In the Introduction to this book, we called this attitude 
neo-functionaiism, a functionalism that subjects the function 
to a formal critique. The neo-functionalist asks: Is the use 
as simple, ingenious, or clear as the efficient means that 
produce it? Is the using a good experience? For instance, 
these days they sell us machines whose operation is not 
transparent and that an intelligent layman cannot repair. 
Such a thing is ugly in itself, and it enslaves us to repairmen. 

There is one abuse of present-day production, however, 
that is not only ugly and foolish but morally outrageous, 
and the perpetrators should be ostracized from decent so- 
ciety. This is building obsolescence into a machine, so it 
will wear out, be discarded, and replaced. For instance, 
automobile-repair parts are now stocked for only five years, 
whereas previously they w r ere stocked for ten. Does this 
mean that the new cars, meant to last a shorter time, are 
cheaper? On the contrary, they are more expensive. Does it 
mean that there are so many new improvements that there 
is no point in keeping the older, less efficient models run- 
ning? There are no such improvements; the new models are 
characterized merely by novel gimmicks to induce sales- 
just as the difficulty of repair and the obsolescence are built 
in to enforce sales. 

Neo-functionalists are crotchety people, for they are in 
love with the goddess of common sense, and the way we 
do things catches them by the throat. They take exception 




of pliysscci 
and moral ends 

exploitation of 
physical means 

A neo-functionall&l analysis of the three paradigms 

to much that is universally accepted, because it doesn't add 
up; they stop to praise many things universally disregarded, 
such as the custom of sitting on slum stoops and sidewalks, 
with or without chairs: Park Avenue does not provide this 
amenity. To a neo-functionalist, much that is insisted on 
seems not worth all that bother, and he is often easygoing; 
Ms attitude is interpreted as laziness, but he sees no reason 
to be busy if he is not bored. He praises the ailanthus. 

Of all trees and shrubs it seems to be only the locust and 
especially the ailanthus that flourish of themselves in the 
back alleys and yard-square plots of dirt that are the gar- 
dens of Manhattan Island. They bloom from the mouths 
of basements. But the maple saplings and the elms that are 
transplanted there at large expense and are protected from 
pests with doses of a nauseating juice, languish and die in 
that environment of motor fumes and pavements. 

Should our native city not, out of simple respect and 
piety., exalt the ailanthus to be our chief ornamental scenery, 
and make places for it everywhere? For the ailanthus loves 
5 and thrives in our balance of nature. Our city is rich 
enough, it could become elegant enough, to flaunt a garden 

Backyard^ New York City 

of native weeds. There is everywhere a prejudice against 
the luxuriating plantain weed, which as abstract design is as 
lovely as can be. Why should not this weed be raised to the 
dignity of a grass it is only a matter of a name and then 
carefully be weeded in, in rows and stars, to decorate the 
little sidewalk plots? 

The Rivers of New York 

Trained in the New Commune, the neo-functionalist men- 
tions also the ludicrous anomaly of New York's bathing- 
places. During the heat of summer tens of thousands of 
Manhattanites daily travel from two to three hours to go 
swimming and boating on far-off shores. Many millions of 
dolars were spent in developing a bathing place no less 

Three Community Paradigms 177 

than 40 miles from midtown Manhattan, and this place it 
is the darling of our notorious Park Commissioner has been 
connected with the city by remarkable highways on which 
at peak hours the traffic creeps at four miles an hour, while 
the engines boil. 

Meantime the venturesome poor boys of the city swim 
daily, as they always have, in the Hudson River and the 
East River under the sidelong surveillance of usually reas- 
onable police; it is quite illegal. It is illegal because the 
water is polluted. No strenuous effort is made by the Park 
Commissioner to make it unpolluted; and the shore is not 
developed for bathing. Yet to the boys it seems the obvious 
thing to do on a hot day, to dive into the nearest water, 
down the hill at the end of the street, into 

Our lordly Hudson hardly flowing 

under the green-grown cliffs 

and has no peer in Europe or the East. 

A typical view of Manhattan, reorganized as proposed here. This 
is a scene along the East River, with facilities for boating, bath- 
ing and other types of recreation. Business buildings would be 
confined to a narrow spine running north and south up the center 
of the island, near two great arterial highways. 


The Museum of Art 

Suppose again, says our aeo-functionaUst friend, that a 
number of mighty masterpieces of painting and statuary 
were decentralized from the big museum and placed, one in 
this neighborhood church (as in Rome one encounters as- 
tounded, M oses) , and one on this fountain in a local square. 
wherever there is a quiet place to pause. A few of the neigh- 
bors would come to have a friendly and perhaps somewhat 
proprietary acquaintance with their masterpiece. Are they 
not to be trusted so close to the treasure? 

One cannot help but think of Florence that has come 
down to us not as a museum city (like Venice), but as a 
bustling modem town, yet still a continuous home for those 
strange marble and bronze monsters of the Renaissance, in 
the squares. It would be very interesting for a sociologist 
to study, with his questionnaires, the effect of those things 
on the Florentines. They have had an effect. 

When there is such a work in a neighborhood, a stranger, 
who from afar has heard of its fame, will come to visit the 
local square where he would otherwise never have ventured. 
Then the children notice how carefully and reverently he is 
looking at the statue they climb on. 

Nurses' Uniforms 

The washing and ironing of all New York's city hospitals 
is to be done at a great municipal laundry. And it comes out 
on investigation that the great part of the work can be done 
by a small fraction of the labor and machinery, but the small 
remainder of the work requires all the rest of the labor. It 
is the kind of situation that puts a neo-functionalist on the 
alert. It is that most of the labor goes into ironing the uni- 
forms of doctors and nurses, but especially into ironing the 
frilly bonnets and aprons. The washing and the flatwork is 

Three Community Paradigms 179 

done by machine and mangle, but the frills require hand- 

It's not worth it. Make the uniforms of seersucker or any- 
thing else that doesn't need ironing. Make the hats in the 
form of colored kerchiefs that could equally well indicate 
the schools from which the nurses have come. 

These conclusions are offered to the city fathers who have 
ordered a functional laundry to be designed; but they de- 
cide that they're not practical. 

The Morning-Glory 

Yet our neo-functionalist friend, who is a great lover of 
oriental anecdotes, also approvingly tells the following 

"In the sixteenth century, the morning-glory was as yet 
a rare plant in Japan. Rikiu had an entire garden planted 
with it, which he cultivated with assiduous care. The fame 
of his convolvuli reached the ear of the Taiko, and he ex- 
pressed a desire to see them; in consequence Rikiu invited 
him to a morning tea at his house. On the appointed day 



the Taiko walked through the garden, but nowhere could 
he see any evidence of the flower. The ground had been 
leveled and strewn with fine pebbles and sand. With sullen 

anger the despot entered the tearoom, but a sight restored 
his humor. In the tokonoma, in a rare bronze of Sung work- 
manship, lay a single morning-glory the queen of the whole 
garden/' (Kakuzo Okakura) 

The Theory of Packages 

In general, when the consumption of a product is re- 
moved from its production, by the geographical distance 
between factory and home, by the economic distance of 
sale and resale up to retail, and the temporal distance be- 
tween making and use, the product is encased in a series of 
packages. There are the shipper's crate and the whole- 
saler's case and the middleman's carton and the retailer's 
box and the waterproof, airtight cellophane wrapper that 
must be kept inviolate and untouched except by the ultimate 

These packages are the career of physical goods as a com- 
modity, and once the last wrapper is broken, the commodity 
is destroyed, it is unsaleable. It has been corrupted by the 
moisture and air and germs of life, by the passionate fact 
that someone wants the thing enough to touch it rather 
than sell it. Economically, then, this is a sacramental mo- 
ment, when a man or woman brutally breaks the wrapper 
and takes the bread out of circulation. (From any point of 
view, the insipid taste is less interesting.) 

The principle of packages is a corollary of Ralph Bor- 
sodi's blanket principle that as the cost of production per 
unit decreases by mass production, the cost of distribution 
increases because of the intermediaries involved in mass dis- 
tribution. From this principle he derives the paradox of 
prosperity and insecurity: the copiousness of commodities 
entails the subordination of the consumer to a vast econ- 
omic machine which can become deranged in different 

Three Community Paradigms 181 

parts and leave him without elementary necessities. Bor- 
sodf s principle does not mean that machine production 
and labor-saving devices are humanly inefficient, but only 
when they become too geographically and economically 
centralized. Borsodi himself is an enthusiast for domestic 
machines and home industries, but there is also the possi- 
bility of a reasonably large community of integrated indus- 
trial, agricultural, domestic and cultured life, where the 
efficiency of machines can be exploited without insecurity. 


At present, a man's time of life is also put into packages. 
We speak, as the British anarchist Woodcock has pointed 
out, of "lengths of time as if they were length of calico." He 
concludes that the clock, the time clock that the worker 
aggressively "punches," is the chief machine of industrial 
exploitation, for it enables human labor to be quantified 
and priced as a commodity. 

This commodity-time is the time of not-life that people 
step into when they take leave of their hearts, their homes, 
and even their heads, early in the morning. It is the time 
of a secondary environment which is, however, still loud 
with the authoritative but inner and forgotten voice of 


parents who seemed to wish (so children get to think) to 

deprive one of pleasure and ease. Especially in the morning 
at twenty to eight, and late in the afternoon at twenty after 
four, the fatherly face of the clock is frowning, deeper first 

on the left side, then on the right. 


Every one of the packages is printed with is own mumbo- 
jumbo of \vords. 

In the nature of the case, when the consumer is far from 
the producer; has not ordered the production nor handled 
the means of it; nor estimated the cost of the means in pro- 
portion to the satisfaction enjoyed; it is necessary to interest 
him in the product, to create a want for it that has not been 
fired by any previous activity. (When we make or command 
something to be made, there are goal gradients toward the 
use. ) Also, he must be persuaded to buy it if it is something 
that is, perhaps, not absolutely indispensable. All these 
functions are fulfilled by advertising, which draws less and 
less on the direct relation between the excellence of the 
product and the cost of its making the word "cheap" is 
never used but more and more on the comparative esti- 
mates of social opinion, emulation, fear of inferiority or 
not belonging. These drives require a handsome fund of 
insecurity to begin with. 

Pictures and slogans are repeated again and again, and 
it is now classical theory, and perhaps even somewhat true, 
that repetition leads to belief and even overt action. This 
theory is true under certain conditions, namely that the 
use of words is reflex behavior, rather than an action of 
need, passion, invention, observation, and reflection. It is a 
poor use of speech, and unfortunately it does damage to 
English, for free poets must now take pains to use out- 
landish ways of speech to make sure that their words will 
not be taken in the meanings to which people have become 
accustomed, instead of relying on, and striving to reach, the 
meanings to which people are accustomed. 

Three Community Paradigms 183 

The Theory of Home Furnishings 

The furniture of a home expresses, in its quantity and 
kind, the division of the concerns of the soul; in different 
community arrangements this division falls in different 

On the principle of neo-functionaiism, the place where 
the chief material outlay is made should give the chief 
satisfaction, otherwise why bother? If this rule is neglected, 
the material outlay becomes a dead weight, discouraging by 
its initial cost and even more by its continuing presence. 

Now except in the woods, the chief material OP day we 
see about us is the public city with its services. But in 
America these streets, squares, and highways do not pretend 
to compete in satisfaction with the private homes or the 
theaters of fantasy. They are a dead weight on these other 
satisfactions. One emerges from the theater into an environ- 
ment that is less exciting, and one emerges from home into 
an environment that is quite impersonal and uninteresting. 
In late medieval times, they spent no effort on the streets, 
but burgher and baron adorned their homes. 

Let us rather take a lesson from the Greeks who were 
often practical in what concerned the chief end and did not 
complicate their means. An Athenian, if free and male, ex- 
perienced in the public places, the market, the law court, 
the porticoes, the gymnasia, most of the feelings of ease, 
intimacy, and personal excitement that we reserve for home 
and private clubs. He lived in the city more than at home. 
He had for his public objects the affairs of empire, civic 
duties, and passions of friendship. There was no sharp dis- 
tinction between public and private affairs. 

On the civic places and public institutions, then, they 
lavished an expense of architecture, mulcted from an empire 
and slaves in the silver mines, that with us would be quite 
deadening in its pretentiousness. But the thousands of free 
men were at home there. 

An Athenian's domestic home was very simple; it was not 


an asylum for his personality. It did not have to be filled with 
furniture, mirrors, keepsakes, ciniosa, and games. 

But a bourgeois gentleman, when he is about to leave 
his home in the morning, kisses his wife and daughter, steps 
before a mirror and adjusts his tie, and then, the last thing 
before emerging, puts on a public face. 

The most curious examples of heavily furnished homes 
that are the insane asylums of the spirit frozen and re- 
jected in the city square can be found among the middle 
classes at the beginning of the twentieth century. And the 
most curious room of this most curious home was not the 
bedroom, the dining room, or the parlor, where after all 
there existed natural and social satisfactions, but the master's 
den, the jungle and the cavern of his reveries. In our decade, 
this den of nostalgic revery is in print in the stories of The 
New Yorker magazine. 

Public Faces in Private Places 

It is always a question whether the bourgeois den is 
worse or better than no private home at all, the norm of the 
states ancient and modern which consider men as public 
animals, and homes as army barracks. 

But it has remained for our own generation to perfect the 
worst possible community arrangement, the home of the 
average American. This home is liberally supplied with fur- 
niture and the comforts of private life, but these private 
things are neither made nor chosen by personal creation or 
idiosyncratic taste, but are made in a distant factory and 
distributed by unresisted advertising. At home they exhaust 
by their presence a bare cell would give more peace or 
arouse restlessness. They print private life with a public 
meaning. But if we turn to read this public meaning, we 
find that the only moral aim of society is to provide private 
satisfactions called the Standard of Living. This is remark- 
able. The private places have public faces, as Auden said, 
but the public faces are supposed to imitate private faces. 
What a booby trap! 

Public place, 

Private place, 
Victorian England 


A Japanese Home 

"One of the surprising features that strikes a foreigner as 
he becomes acquainted with the Japanese house is the entire 
absence of so many things that with us clutter the closets 
and make squirrels* nests of the attic. The reason for this is 
that the people have never developed the miserly spirit of 
hoarding truck and rubbish with the idea that some day it 
will come into use." (Edward Morse) 

"Swallows are often encouraged to build nests in the 
home, in the room most often used by the family. A shelf is 
built below the nest. The children watch the construction of 
the nest and the final rearing of the young birds." (Ibid.) 

"One comes to realize how few are the essentials neces- 
sary for personal comfort . . . and that personal comfort is 
enhanced by the absence of many things deemed indispens- 
able. In regard to the bed and its arrangement, the Japanese 
have reduced the affair to its simplest expression. The whole 
floor, the whole house indeed, is a bed, and one can fling 
oneself down on the soft mats, in the draft or out of it, 
upstairs or down and find a smooth, firm and level surface 
upon which to sleep." (Ibid.) 

"When a tea master has arranged a flower to his satisfac- 
tion, he will place it in the tokonoma, the place of honor in 
a Japanese room. Nothing else will be placed near it which 
might interfere with its effect, not even a plant; unless there 
be some special esthetic reason for the combination. It rests 
there Eke an enthroned prince, and the guests or disciples 
on entering the room will salute it with profound bows/ 5 

A Japanese house is essentially one big room, divided by 
sliding screens as desired, for the activity of life is ever 
varying. Outside and inside are also open to one another. 

Tokonoma in guestroom, Hachi-ishi. (after Morse) 









Pfon o/ dwelling house in Tokyo; sliding screens indicated bij 
arrows, tree trunk hj T. (after Morse) 


Planned Security 

With Minimum Regulation 

The Sense in Which 

Our Economy Is Out of Human Scale 

Our economy is gigantic by the quantity and number of 
kinds of goods and services, but as such it is not out of 
human scale, for to the immense civilized population the 
immense quantity of goods is appropriate. The increase of 
useless wealth of individuals, in the form of gadgets sold 
by advertising, may not add to human virtue, but then it 
adds to folly which is equally human. The inequitable dis- 
tribution of wealth, especially considered internationally, 
is a subject of resentment, and this is an intensely human 

But we have grown out of human scale in the following 
way: Starting from the human goods of subsistence and 
luxury, the increment of profit was reinvested in capital 
goods in order to earn more profits, to win for the enter- 
prisers more luxury and power; this is still human motiva- 
tion. But in recent decades the result has been that the 
center of economic concern has gradually shifted from either 
providing goods for the consumer or gaining wealth for the 
enterpriser, to keeping the capital machines at work and 
running at full capacity; for the social arrangements have 
become so complicated that, unless the machines are run- 
ning at nearly full capacity, all wealth and subsistence are 
jeopardized, investment is withdrawn, men are unemployed. 
That is, when the system depends on all the machines run- 
ning, unless ever y kind of goods is produced and sold, it is 


Three Community Paradigms 189 

also impossible to produce bread. Then an economy is out 
of human scale. 

Social Insurance vs. the Direct Method 

But elementary subsistence and security cannot be ne- 
glected by any social order; they are political needs, prior 
to economic needs. So the governments of the most highly 
capitalized states intervene to assure elementary security 
which is no longer the first business of the economy. And 
the tack they take is the following: to guarantee social secur- 
ity by subsidizing the full productivity of the economy. 
Security is provided by insurance paid in the money that 
comes from the operation of the whole economy. The amaz- 
ing indirectness of this procedure is brilliantly exposed by 
the discovery of a new human "right" as if the rights of 
man could be so easily amended. This is the "right to em- 
ployment/* failing which one gets the insurance. Full em- 
ployment is the device by which we flourish; and so the old 
curse of Adam, that he must work in order to live, now 
becomes a goal to be struggled for, just because we have 
the means to produce a surplus, cause of all our woes. This 
is certainly out of human scale, yet the statesmen of America 
and England talk this way with absolute conviction; and 
anyone who spoke otherwise would be voted out of office. 

The immediate result of such a solution, of insurance, 
social credit, or any other kind of give-away money, is to 
tighten even closer the economic trap. Whatever freedom 
used to come from free enterprise and free market and they 
are freedoms which were indeed fought for with blood is 
now trapped in regulation and taxes. The union of govern- 
ment and economy becomes more and more total; we are in 
the full tide toward statism. This is not a question of any- 
body's bad intentions, but follows from the connection of 
the basic political need of subsistence with the totality of 
an industrial economy. 

So much for the indirect solution. 


C M M U N I T A S 






^vS 80 

Three Community Paradigms 191 

The direct solution, of course, would be to divide the 
economy and provide the subsistence directly, letting the 
rest complicate and fluctuate as it will. Let whatever is 
essential for life and security be considered by itself, and 
since this is a political need in an elementary sense, let 
political means be used to guarantee it. But the rest of the 
economy, providing wealth, power, luxury, emulation, con- 
venience, interest and variety, has to do with varying human 
wishes and satisfactions, and there is no reason for govern- 
ment to intervene in it in any way. The divided economy 
has, therefore, the twofold advantage that it directly pro- 
vides the essential thing that is in jeopardy, without having 
to underwrite something else; and it restricts the interven- 
tion of government to this limited sphere. 

Up to, say, sixty years ago, more than half of the pro- 
ductive capacity of our economy was devoted to subsistence; 
subsistence could be regarded as the chief end of the econ- 
omy; and whatever their own motives, most enterprisers 
served the subsistence market. Now, however, in the United 
States less than a tenth of the economy is concerned with 
subsistence goods. (Probably nearer a fifteenth; the exact 
figure would depend on what one considers an adequate 
minimum.) Except for the biological and political factors 
involved, the economic machinery could roll almost as usual 
though everybody were dead of starvation, exposure, and 
disease. When the situation is viewed in this way, one of 
the causes is at once clear why prosperity and surplus lead 
precisely to insecurity: namely, that too few people are 
busy about subsistence, and as we know from recent farm- 
ing history, those who are busy about it try to get out of it; 
there's no real money in meat and potatoes. 

But once the economy would be divided as we are sug- 
gesting, the very techniques of industry that, when applied 
incidentally to subsistence, lead to insecurity, would, applied 
directly to subsistence, produce it with an even smaller 
fraction of the social labor than at present. 

Probably there are various political means by which this 


small fraction of production could be effectuated, and we 
will soon develop an obvious one, direct state production of 
subsistence by universally conscripted labor, run as a state 
monopoly like the post office or the army, but paying not 
money but its own scrip, exchangeable only for subsistence 
goods made by this same enterprise. 

(This is a vast undertaking. It would be apparently 
simpler to effect approximately the same end by using pri- 
vate semi-monopolistic concessionaires in the state non- 
profit subsistence-business. But if indeed the production 
cost is absolutely minimum and the types absolutely 
standard and non-competitive, how could a private firm 
profit? Further, it is intolerable, and unconstitutional, to 
have to work for a private concessionaire. Therefore we pre- 
fer the state production taking over relevant private plant 
and building its own plant because of its purity of method. 
It takes subsistence out of the economy. Subsistence is not 
something to profit by, to invest in, to buy or sell. On the 
part of the consumer, it is not something to choose or reject 
or contract for or exchange his labor for, but simply to 
work for.) 

On whatever method and there are no doubt possibili- 
ties we have not thought of there is one principle: to assure 
subsistence by specific production of subsistence goods and 
services rather than by insurance taxed from the general 
economy. This involves a system of double money: the 
"money" of the subsistence production and consumption 
and the money of the general market. The subsistence-cer- 
tificates are not money at all, for by definition a man's sub- 
sistence leaves nothing to exchange; this "money" is like 
wartime ration stamps, which are likewise not legally nego- 
tiable. A man's right to life is not subject to trade. 

A major moral advantage of this proposal is that every 
person can know that the work he does for a living is un- 
questionably useful and necessary, and unexploited. It is 
life itself for himself and everybody else. In our times of so 
much frivolous production and synthetic demand, and the 

Three Community Paradigms 193 

accompanying cynicism of the producers, the importance of 
such a moral cannot be overestimated. 

Another consequence: To everyone, but especially to the 
small wage earner, the separation of his subsistence, employ- 
ing a small fraction of his labor time, from the demands and 
values of the general economy employing most of his labor 
time, would give a new security, a breath of freedom, and 
the possibility of choice. He is independent. He has worked 
directly for what he absolutely needs; he does not feel the 
pressure of being a drain on society; he does not fear that 
his insurance payments will cease. By the same token, peo- 
ple in general, including the small enterpriser, would be 
more fearless, for their risks are less fatal. But indeed, these 
things imply a change of social attitude so profound that 
we must think deeply about both the dangers and the 

The retrenchment of government from economic inter- 
ference in the general part, again, might go very far, relax- 
ing kinds of regulation that are now indispensable protec- 
tion of women and children, protection of unions, and so 
forth. For where the prospective wage earner has a sub- 
sistence independently earned, the conditions under which 
he agrees to work can be allowed to depend on his own 
education rather than on the government's coercion of the 

Let us sum up by contrasting the actual plans offered by 
present-day governments with the plan here suggested. 
They propose: 

Security of subsistence. 

A tax on the general economy. 

Necessity to maintain the economy at full production 
to pay the tax: therefore, governmental planning, 
pump-priming, subsidies, and made work; a still 
further tax, and possibly a falling rate of profit. 

Insistence on the unemployed worker's accepting the 
third or fourth job available, in order to prevent 
a continuing drain on the insurance fund. 

194 C O M M U N I T A S 

Protection of the workers thus coerced by regulating 
the conditions of industry and investment. 

Against this we propose: 

Security of subsistence. 

Loss to the industrialist and merchant of the sub- 
sistence market and a small fraction of the social 

Coercion of a small fraction of the social labor to 
produce the subsistence goods and services. 

Economic freedom in all other respects. 

Now financially, the choice between these two plans 
would depend on the comparison between the insurance 
and subsidies tax and the loss of labor time and market. ( Un- 
fortunately, for reasons explained below, this comparison is 
hard to make accurately at least by us.) Socially and 
morally, however, there seems to be no comparison at all: 
our way is direct, simple, liberating, and allows people a 
quiet interim to make up their minds about things. 

A History 

The idea of guaranteeing subsistence by dividing the 
economy rather than insurance is very old and we might 
clarify the proposal here suggested by comparing and con- 
trasting it with two or three of its predecessors just as the 
scheme of social insurance is the heir of clerical and private 
charity and of the state dole. What is crucial is the relation 
between the subsistence economy and the general economy. 

One of the earliest such ideas of modern industrial times 
was the communities of Robert Owen, those well-regulated 
squares that, starting anew in isolation, were to engage in 
well-rounded agriculture and machine industry, but whether 
with the aim of rising in the world or prospering and con- 
tinuing in isolation is not really clear. For originally there 
seem to have been three different motives for the communi- 

Three Community Paradigms 195 

ties, and three distinct classes of members. First, the motive 
of an enlightened industrialist, ahead of both his time and 
ours, to make the new machine industry a humane way of 
life by organizing it into an all-around community, rather 
than by tearing labor from the countryside into wage slavery 
in a money economy; certain members came for this pur- 
pose, to live better. Second, the motive of a philanthropist 
on the poor board to provide relief for paupers by a method 
of self-help by which they could rehabilitate themselves at 
little cost to society; but in such a case, if the community 
succeeded, was it to continue in competition with society, 
or were its now capable members to filter back into the 
general economy? Third, the motive of a Utopian pioneer to 
start afresh in a virgin country, away from the world of 
status and privilege, to establish a new society of socialism 
and democracy; but if that had succeeded, it would have 
undone the general economy. 

The workshops of Louis Blanc had a more definite aim. 
The personnel are the unemployed who have a "right to 
work"; they work with capital provided by the state; and 
they produce goods for the general market in competition 
with the products of private capital. Here there is no limita- 
tion on the new economy, either of restriction to subsistence 
goods or of isolation, as in the Owenite communities. The 
scheme is, and was probably meant to be, frankly revolution- 
ary, for how could private economy compete with a state 
economy that it was subsidizing by taxes on its own wealth? 
(Although there is evidence that the spreading of new 
money among the poor indeed benefited the middle class, 
as a modern economist would have predicted.) The fact 
that such an apparently explosive innovation could force its 
way into political acceptance proves how right Marx was 
when he wrote, in those years, that the specter of com- 
munism was haunting Europe. And the way in which its fires 
were quenched by legitimacy, by relying on the inefficiency 
of bureaucrats and demoralized workers, and by sabotage- 
so that in a moment of disillusionment the counter-revolu- 


tion could strike is a classic in political tactics and economic 

We may also mention in this series the Homestead Act 
and similar plans, appropriate to societies that have large 
undeveloped outskirts and frontiers: free land is given to 
families that have failed in the general economy. The theory 
is that in such an open economy especially when it is still 
an economy of scarcitythe increase of farmers and the 
development of new regions provide new markets. This is 
the rational notion that new wealth is to the advantage of 
everybody. However, when a somewhat similar farm sub- 
sidy is advanced in our own times for instance, the loan of 
farm animals and machines by a government agency the 
general economy is not so receptive; for the land and people 
rehabilitated are precisely those for which there was proved 
to be no use, and their products are not needed in the sur- 
plus and are not welcome as competition. 

It remained for our own times, however, to hit on the 
ultimate possible maladjustment between public production 
and private production, the theory of the Works Progress 
Administration, as set up to combat the Depression of '29. 
The personnel were the unemployed, and they engaged in 
productive work capitalized by the state; but the New Deal 
had learned from the adventures of Louis Blanc not to set 
class against class in economic competition; therefore the 
products of the WPA were non-saleable. Not not-saleable 
in the sense that they were consumed by their producers 
(and that would have competed with the subsistence 
market), but non-saleable in kind. What products? In a 
state of advanced capitalism there are no such products, for 
everything useful is preempted as a business. Thus if, on 
the one hand, the WPA happened to generate something 
useful, like the WPA theater, it at once met the outcry 
of unfair competition from private enterprisers; if, on the 
other hand, it kept nicely within the limits of futility, it met 
with the charge of boondoggling. Fortunately the war 

Three Community Paradigms 197 

turned up In different parts of the world to provide a useful 
non-competitive industry for everybody. 

The most important variant of the WPA is the idea of 
using the unemployed for public works. This is a form of 
pump-priming. This use makes sense, but the following 
possibilities occur: ( 1 ) The works expand and run into com- 
petition with private enterprise, the fate of the TVA; (2) 
When they are social services of real value, the works' 
tempo and continuance ought not to depend on the supply 
of idle labor, but should be expertly staffed on their own; or 
(3) If they are made work pure and simple, then the most 
imposing and costly structure of society's greatest employer 
are restricted to the class of objects that make little differ- 
ence whether or not they exist. 

Conclusions from the History 

As against the above, our proposal covers everybody in 
the society rather than a special group, the unemployed. In 
this it follows the plan of social insurance, which insures 
everyone, regardless of prospective need. Everyone is liable 
to a period of labor, or its equivalent, for the direct produc- 
tion of subsistence goods, and all are entitled to the goods. 

And instead of limiting the class of persons, the limitation 
is set on the class of goods, subsistence goods. This kind is 
the most universally essential, so it is reasonable to require 
a universal service; nevertheless this part of the economy 
is not allowed to expand or raise its standards, therefore it 
cannot compete economically or dominate politically. 

It is reasonable to speak in this way of a subsistence mini- 
mum only when there is, in fact, a vast potential surplus, 
when the minimum can be produced with a small fraction 
of the social labor and there is opportunity for wide satis- 
faction at a higher standard. Otherwise one is indirectly 
flirting with the iron law of w r ages as a general policy. 

Now, as we have suggested, the political execution of 


such a divided economy can have the form of a universal 
labor service similar to periods of military conscription. As- 
sume conservatively that a tenth of the social labor is re- 
quired: then a man would serve in the national economy for 
six or seven years of his life, spaced out as convenient 
with a certain choice as to the years in which to serve. There 
seems to be no reason why a wealthy man could not buy a 
substitute to serve his time for him, but this would be at the 
prevailing rate of wages in private industry, for why else 
should the substitute sell his time? More democratic would 
be an arrangement \vhereby the first period, say 18 to 20, 
must be served in person; but later periods, when people 
have settled into private affairs, could be served by paid 
substitutes. Further details would be the adaptation of dif- 
ferent age groups and skills to different kinds of work, the 
problems being the same as in any general conscription. 

This plan is coercive. In fact, if not in law, however, it is 
less coercive than the situation most people are used to. 
For the great mass of wage earners, it fixes a limit to the 
necessities that, between capital and trade union, they are 
subject to; and for the wealthy enterpriser, who would buy 
substitutes, it is no more coercive than any other tax. On 
constitutional grounds, the crucial objections to forced 
labor have always been either that it subjects the individual 
to a private enterpriser without contract (a form of slavery) ; 
or it is unfairly competitive; or it broadens the power of the 
state. None of these objections holds. 

But an important political and economic difficulty of any 
such plan is the following: In any divided economy with 
double money there are relations between the two econo- 
mies in which both are directly concerned. On the one hand, 
the government can extend its coercion, without the freedom 
of the market; this would come up in the exercise of the 
right of eminent domain in order to provide the government 
with what it must have. On the other hand, the private 
economy uses its pressures of monopoly and speculation to 
force the government's hand at opportune moments. These 

Three Community Paradigms 199 

dangers may be mitigated by making the government's busi- 
ness as minimal and as independent of exchange as possible. 
Yet in some sphere there must be cooperation. These are 
where the same object is used for minimal and other uses, for 
instance transportation. For one cannot have two parallel 
systems of roads, railroads, and airlines. Perhaps, itself 
moneyless, the government can contribute its share in the 
form of labor service; and sometimes it can collect credit for 
its running expenses from the private economy. We are 
touching on a political principle beyond our scope here, 
the principle of purity of means in the exercise of the differ- 
ent powers of society. Government, founded on authority, 
uses mainly the means of personal service; economy, 
founded on exchange, uses mainly the means of money. 

The Standard of Minimum Subsistence 

What is the minimum standard on which a person will 
feel himself secure and free, not struggling to get more in 
the private economy, unless he chooses? The problem is 
subtle and difficult, for although as a medical problem it 
has a definite solution, as a psychological and moral problem 
it depends on emulation, and who is emulated, and these 
things themselves are subject to alteration good or bad. 
What is minimum for even a poor Southern sharecropper 
might be spendthrifty to an indio of Yucatan (who, how- 
ever, has other satisfactions). 

We are speaking always of a going surplus technology. 
This technology which can provide all manner of things for 
everybody can also, in a different way, produce a few things 
of a very few kinds accompanied by a minimum regulation 
of time, living arrangements, and habits of Me. How seri- 
ously are people willing to dispense with many things in 
order to have the freedom which they also think they want? 

When combined with freedom, a minimum standard 
would be far less than what is estimated minimum in our 
present society. Let us give a single example. In estimating 


minimum standards of decency and safety, Stuart Chase 
finds it indispensable for every home to have a radio, be- 
cause in an integrated society especially during a total war 
a person must have instant communications (and how 
desirable to have it one way!) . But if the very point of our 
minimum standard is to free people from "integration/* a 
radio is a convenience which a person might think twice 

Other examples of reducing, the "necessary" minimum 
could be found by considering how much of decency of 
appearance and how many contacts are required solely by 
the fact that we live in a society competitive through and 

On the other hand, when combined with freedom, our 
minimum is far higher than exists in a scarcity economy, for 
instance China, where a person subsists in time-bound 
service to field or commune (and that standard too, since 
inevitable, is socially acceptable) . But if the very point of 
our minimum is to free people for a selective choice of how 
they will regulate their time, mobility and independence of 
location are indispensable. 

The minimum is based on a physiological standard, 
heightened by the addition of whatever is necessary to give 
a person a true possible freedom of social choice, and not 
violating our usual mores. 

If freedom is the aim, everything beyond the minimum 
must be rigorously excluded, even if it should be extremely 
cheap to provide; for it is more important to limit political 
intervention than to raise the standard of living. 

Then, the minimum economy must produce and dis- 

1. Food sufficient in quantity and kind for health, 
palatable but without variety. 

2. Uniform clothing adequate for all seasons. 

3. Shelter on an individual, family, and group basis, 
with adequate conveniences for different environ- 

Three Community Paradigms 201 

4. Medical service. 

5. Transportation. 

but not primary education which is a public good taxed 
from the general economy. 

Of these, food, clothing, and shelter are produced by ab- 
solute mass production in enormous quantities, without vari- 
ation of style. Medicine and transportation are better pro- 
vided by some arrangement between the subsistence and 
general economies. 

The Cost of Subsistence 

The extent and cost of the proposed subsistence system, 
measured in current money, is very hard to determine and 
therefore it is hard to name, except by guesswork, the num- 
ber of years of labor service that are bartered away for eco- 
nomic freedom. 

In the first place, although the number of laborers is fixed 
for even those who would buy off must furnish a laborer 
as a substitutethe amount of goods to be produced is 
fluctuating. For, obviously, though all are entitled to the 
minimal goods, many, and perhaps most, of the people who 
are used to better and can afford better, will not take them. 
There is no advantage in taking and wasting, for the less 
that needs to be produced, the less the exaction of universal 
service. Different kinds of goods will differ in demand: 
fewer will use the minimal housing and clothing; most per- 
haps can use some of the minimum food; very many will use 
the transportation and medical service. After a sufficient 
reserve is built up, production is geared to the prospective 
use of the next year. But further, this demand will fluctuate 
with the fluctuation of the general economy, though less 
sharply: in times of general economic crisis, the demand for 
subsistence goods increases; in times of prosperity, it dimin- 
ishes. (The fluctuation is less sharp because of the ratio of 
minimum goods to substitutes of a higher standard, because 
of the ratio of the number of unemployed to the universal 


1932 product created by 35 million peo- 
ple during 70 billion work hours 

Assumption: one-half of total production 
time spent creating capital, luxury, 
and comfort goods; includes loss by 
reason of inefficiency and waste 

Work hours for production of subsistence 
in 1932: 35 billion hours 

Reduction in hours by reason of techno- 
logical improvement at 2.5 per cent 
per year, 1932-44: 24 billion hours 

Production of approximately 25 billion 
hours of work at rate of 2,500 hours 
per worker 

Reduction of 25 per cent for product not 

Labor time reduced to 19 billion hours or 
7,600,000 workers 

Total labor force equals 80,000,000 

Labor force required per annum equals 


Required of each worker is that he spend 

one year of each ten in the labor service 


Civilian production 


War production 


From an exhaustive iist of 

subsistence goods 

(Figures in parentheses indicate amount 
used per year) 


Table (1/5) 

Chair (1/5) 

Cot and mattress (1/5) 

Stove-for cooking and heating (1/10) 

Fuel (type and quantity dependent on 

Lamps or other lights (dependent on 

Pint pot (1/3) 
Quart pot (1/3) 
12-inch pan (1/3) 
Hunting knife, table knife, 2 forks, 

large and small spoon (1/4) 
Corkscrew, can opener (1/4) 
Cup, plate, bowl (1/2) 
2-gaIlon pail (1/4) 
10-gallon tub for laundry and bathing 


Mop and broom (1) 
Small ax (1/5) 
Shovel (1/5) 
Household repair kit-hammer, nails, 

screw driver, etc. (1/2) 
10 yards of clothesline, 1 dozen 

clothespins (1/2) 
Dish towels (4) 
Cleaning cloths (4 yds.) 
Pencils (10) 
Writing paper (1 rm.) 
Matches (12 boxes of 400) 
Flashlight (1/2) 
Batteries for flashlight (4) 
Kitchen and grease-solvent soaps 

(25 cakes) 


Goal No. 2 

$200 Billion 


To produce the standard of 1932-well 
above subsistence as here defined - 
would require 

39 39 

or one year of work in four or five 

Three Community Paradigms 203 

labor service, and because the reserve functions as an ever- 
normal granary.) 

But secondly, and most importantly, the price of goods 
under such a system of absolute mass production is impos- 
sible to estimate. It would be unbelievably cheap. For 
clothing, a possible estimate could be gotten from army 
uniforms, but these are of course produced for profit all 
along the line; a better figure would be given by the English 
utility clothing of World War II, which was remarkably 
cheap compared to the free market. The figure for farm 
produce is especially difficult; given a system of extensive 
agriculture like the Soviet state farms, with the problem of 
distribution simplified by processing on the spot into non- 
perishable and dehydrated forms, the cost would fall to 
very little; yet this might not be the most absolutely efficient 
procedure. Prefabrication in housing has simply not been 
tried on a large scale; yet small attempts e.g., TVA 3- 
rooms-and-bath at $1,900 (1934) show astounding reduc- 
tions in price. It would be only for medical service and 
transportation that one could make reasonable estimates. 
The rest is guesswork. 

Then we guess that to produce subsistence for all Ameri- 
cans would require not more than one-seventh of the avail- 
able labor time (normal working day) and money. This 
guess is as of 1945. In 1959 we would guess one-tenth. 

Architecture of the Production Centers 

In the subsistence economy, there is the architecture of 
the production centers and of the minimum housing. 
The centers are factories and housing for basic manufac- 

ways of guessing the fraction of the economy needed to 
provide subsistence. But productivity is increasing at an aston- 
'shing rate: for 12-year period 1945-57, rate was 3.3% per year, 
compared to 2.4% annually for the past 60 years. (Nat Bur. of 
Economic Research) 

A production center for 5000 workers, within a city 

hires, clothing, prefabricated houses, processing of foods; 
and for industrial farms and fisheries, and such mines as it 
is wise to run separately rather than jointly with the gen- 
eral economy. 

The single principle of these centers of labor service is 
efficiency. The purely functional approach described in the 
Soviet functionalist plans (p. 71 and p. 72) is sufficient. 
If there are idle convertible plants, they would be used. If 
the centers are located in isolated parts, more elaborate 
social centers must be provided; but if they are near cities, 
that is not necessary. Efficiency and cheapness are the only 

Since the quantity of production of certain items may 
vary from year to year, such plants may be designed to run 

Three Community Paradigms 205 

on two shifts or three shifts. Ordinarily everything runs on 
maximum capacity. 

Centers should be decentralized to the point of maximum 
efficiency of distribution. The location of industrial farms 
depends on soil and climate. 

Provision is here being made for several million workers 
-perhaps as many as 12 million. But in the depths of the 
great Depression there were that many unemployed; and 
during the war, provision was made for 10 million in the 
services, luxuriously equipped, without catastrophic dislo- 

A production center for 50,000 workers: 1. Airport 2. Heavy 
manufacture 3. Light manufacture 4. Industrialized agriculture 
5. Housing 6. Sports and social center 

A production center for 75,000 workers in an isolated place: 
1. Harbor 2. Docks S. Airport and factory 4. Housing 5. Com- 
munity buildings 6. Sports 

Three Community Paradigms 207 

Minimum Housing 

The housing to be produced falls into several classes. The 
over-all principles are: (1) Good functioning at a minimum 
standard; (2) Considerable mobility, combined with ex- 
changeability, to allow freedom of location; (3) Mass pro- 
duction of the fewest possible types consistent with freedom 
of selection on crucial basic issues; (4) Longevity of 10 to 
20 years; (5) Adaptation of the types to various communal 
environments, e.g., those in which public utilities are avail- 
able, those where they are not available, etc. 

The trailers are a restudy of similar houses found prac- 
tical by the TVA. Another type is the Geodesic structure of 
Fuller. A third is air inflated. There are other possibilities. 
One class is adapted to a complete absence of public utili- 
ties, therefore has kerosene light, septic tank, etc. These 
are superior to the actual housing of millions of farm fami- 
lies and they could be used by city families on vacation. 
Another class is adapted to trailer camps equipped with gov- 
ernment utilities, electricity, running water, commiinity 
kitchens. A somew r hat similar community framework for 
migratory farm workers with tents has been analyzed by the 
Farm Security Administration. By good planning, larger 
houses for families can be combined from the units to which 
members are entitled as individuals. 

The plot of land on which the trailer or house is located 
presents little problem where there are no public utilities, 
where the population is sparse, and the value of the land 
submarginal. The difficulty increases where utilities, popula- 
tion, and value increase; up to the point of metropolitan 
concentration, where the problem is insuperable. 

This means that, quite apart from public or private own- 
ership of land, to live in one place rather than another 
involves a fundamental difference in living standards. This 
is one of the choices put up to the individual, whether or not 
he will work for the extra money to pay (in the general 
economy) the increment above the minimum. 

Shelter in a small town 

Shelter in the woods 

Three Community Paradigms 209 

This is an extremely interesting question; viewing the 
matter from the point of view of our problem, we learn a 
good deal about urban life. Metropolitan living, even under 
slum conditions, is in the class of luxuries. This is the con- 
verse to the well-known proposition that metropolitan liv- 
ing, even on Park Avenue, often has physiologically and 
sociologically the standard of a slum. (By "metropolis" we 
mean places over a million; urban environments up to 
several hundred thousand need not present these difficulties 
for subsistence housing. ) 

If we break down the elements of metropolitan rent, we 
see the causes. First is the extraordinary multiplication of 
city services pavements, street lighting and cleaning, water., 
sewage, etc., biologically necessary because of the concen- 
tration, sociologically necessary for policing, etc. Then there 
are items like parks and museums, ranging from psychologi- 
cal necessity to cultural convenience. These appear as city 
taxes. Again, the value of land intensively occupied and 
intensively used by juxtaposition, as by the number of per- 
sons passing a particular spot per hour. And the fact that 
land scarcity is of the essence of concentration, and there- 
fore land is preempted as a business. These factors appear 
as interest on investment and payment for risk. And then 
there is the cost of building, which cannot be mass produced 
because it is sporadic and has peculiar conditions; this ap- 
pears as wages and profit. 

We must conclude that minimal subsistence as such jibes 
with decentralization but not with metropolitan concentra- 

The houses can be pitched only on the outskirts of cities 
as in Swedish plans for subsistence housing. In places of a 
hundred thousand, this is perfectly adequate; but in metrop- 
olises it is precisely not being a member of the community. 
On the other hand, housing of a metropolitan type cannot 
be provided at a minimal standard. Public housing, heavily 
subsidized and built on condemned land, still rents at a 


C M M U N I T A S 

figure that eats up a fifth or a quarter of a man's income in 
the general economy. 

The metropolis exists by the intricacy of its social inter- 
dependencies, and it is to maintain these that each one 
must sacrifice his time and wealth. 

What is likely, however, is that one result of the sub- 
sistence system would be a shortage of common labor in 
the metropolises, and therefore the employers would have 
to make efforts to attract such labor. 

Away from these big cities, however, millions would live 
in mobile and exchangeable units, making use of scattered 
stations. And they would certainly desire, just set free from 
social necessity, not to settle down to a new job for a time, 
but to entertain themselves on the free goods of travel, to 
see like Ulysses, "the places and many minds of men." 
These are the elements of a radically new kind of com- 
munity, fluid rather than fixed. Such a profound difference 
would involve other profound changes, for instance in law. 

Mon Repos 

A minimal economy settlement: 1. Shelter 2. Mess hall, kitchen 
and wash house 


Teacher! Today Again 

Do We Have to Do What We Want to Do? 

Now supposing such a system of assured subsistence with 
almost complete freedom of economic ties were put into 
effect. No doubt for millions of people, no matter how much 
they might resist the idea in prospect, the first effect would 
be immense relief, relief from responsibility, from the pres- 
sure of the daily grind, from the anxiety of failure. 

But after this first commonplace effect had worn off, the 
moral attitude of a people like the Americans would be 
profoundly deranged. They would be afraid not only of 
freedom and leisure, which release both creative and 
destructive drives nicely repressed by routine, but especially 
of boredom, for they would find, or imagine, themselves 
quite without cultural or creative resources. For in our times 
all entertainments and even the personal excitement of 
romance seem to be bound up with having ready money to 
spend. Emotional satisfaction, too, has been intricated into 
the motion of the entire productive machine, it is bound up 
with the Standard of Living. Movies cost money, bars cost 
money, and having a date costs money. Certainly a car costs 
money. Apart from these, as everybody knows, there is 
nothing to do but hang around. (Sports do not cost money, 
sex does not cost money, art does not cost money, nature 
does not cost money, intercourse with people does not cost 
money, science and God do not cost money. ) 

The Americans would suddenly find themselves "rescued" 
from the physical necessity and social pressure which alone, 
perhaps, had been driving them to their habitual satisfac- 
tions. They might soon come to regard commercial pleasures 
as flat and unpalatable, but they would not suddenly 
thereby find any others. They would be like the little girl 
in the progressive school, longing for the security of having 
her decisions made by the grown-ups, who asks, "Teacher, 
today again do we have to do what we want to do?" 

Three Community Paradigms 213 

Would it be a salutary boredom to make these persons do 
what they want to do with their time, to discover what they 
want to do with their lives, rather than following widely 
advertised suggestions? And not for a couple of weeks of 
vacation likewise organized into profit-bearing routines 
but year after year. Or would the effect be like the unem- 
ployed adolescents on the comer who hang around, appar- 
ently unable to think up anything? 

We are asking, in the framework of this model proposal, 
an intensely realistic question about the actual situation in 
our country. For indeed, in our surplus economy, millions 
really are technically unemployable there is no necessary 
work for them to do, no man's work. If automation were 
allowed its full headway, these millions would become many 
many millions. Because they are really economically unpro- 
ductive, they have no culture and no resources of leisure, 
since culture grows from productive life. At the same time, 
each one of these people, no matter how he hangs around 
or perhaps spends his time in getting quasi- visceral "kicks'* 
or being "cool," must also feed his face and come in out of 
the rain. It is this actuality that our scheme of a divided 
economy addresses and draws in black and white: we pro- 
vide the subsistence part in an efficient, honorable, and 
compulsory way; and we leave open the horrendous ques- 
tion: then what? 

The moment when large numbers of people first discover 
clearly and distinctly that they do not know what they want 
to do with their time, is fraught with danger. Some no doubt 
will at once follow any demagogic or fanatical leader who 
happens along with a time-consuming and speciously thrill- 
ing program. (Street-gangs on a mass scale.) How to protect 
the commonwealth against these bands of bored prejudice? 
Others, having lost the thread of compulsory mental ac- 
tivity, will wander in the maze of idle idiocy that we asso- 
ciate with degenerate rural classes, except that the food 
would be even w ? orse, across the counter in a government 


Jobs, Avocations, and Vocations 

The brighter hope is that alongside the leaders teachers 
would also appear. 

The psychoanalysts who deal with the "nervous break- 
downs" of men of affairs sometimes urge the patient to have 
the courage to leave his job and embrace his avocation. The 
job was not freely chosen; it symbolizes and reinforces the 
very pressures of social and parental authority that have 
led to disaster. The avocation, presumably, is spontaneous 
and can draw on deep energy and therefore, by its daily 
practice, reintegrate the personality. 

The system here proposed facilitates such a decision be- 
fore the stage of modern nervous breakdown. Economically, 
there would be a recrudescence of small enterprises and the 
outlay of small venture capital; for the risk of fundamental 
insecurity of life having been removed, why should not one 
work to amass a little capital and then risk it in an enterprise 
that was always sneakingly attractive? 

Vocation and "Vocational Guidance" 

What now passes for "vocational guidance" and "aptitude 
testing" is the exact contrary of vocation in the old sense, a 
man's natural or God-ordained work. The guidance test 
proceeds from the premise that there is an enormous social- 
economic machine continually producing society's goods 
and that this machine must be manned by capable workmen 
who are cogs in the mechanism. A potential workman is 
then tested for his physical, emotional, and intellectual apti- 
tudes to find if some part of the man is adapted to perform- 
ing some role in the machine, most often the role of making 
a part of a part of a product sold in a distant market. 

We have become so accustomed to this picture that it 
requires a strain of attention to see how simply fantastic it 
is. The working of the economic society is put first, the life- 

Three Community Paradigms 215 

work of every individual member of society is not thought of 
at all 

In general, a job takes on the nature of a vocation in 
the following stages: (a) It satisfies the pressures of a 
money-centered society; (b) It is an available means of 
making a living; (c) It is personally interesting has some 
relation to friend and family traditions to childhood ambi- 
tion; (d) It is a phase of a strong avocation and draws on 
free creative energies; (e) It is the land of experience the 
man seeks out. The first, merely economic jobs, are what 
most men now have. Family and group jobs were common in 
older times. Avocational occupations are a legitimate goal 
for society for great numbers of its members; but it demands 
more freedom of opportunity and more mature personality 
than present circumstances permit. True vocation, however, 
is probably not within social means to further (nor even, in 
many cases, to prevent). 

The Sociological Zoo 

A man suddenly withdrawn in will and schedule from 

the general economy, and with a lot of time on his hands, 
might begin to look at the immense activity of others as at 
the objects in a great zoo or museum: a sociological garden 

abounding in its tame and savage ways, many of them very 
near to humane social behavior and, as monkeys are to men, 
all the more curious on that account. This makes a vast 
difference in one's joy of life. 

Thus, a man may have nothing but pleasant memories of 
New York or Paris, even during the summer season. He 
speaks of the variety of the city, its easy gait, its shops, parks, 
markets and animated streets. And the fact is that he stayed 
in these places during the years that he did not have to work 
for a living, he was perhaps a student on a scholarship. 
Therefore he saw the variety and the out-of-the-way places 
that busy people do not stumble on. Projecting his own ease 
into the gait of the others, he cannot understand why other 




\ V V v 

The so 

critics-for instance, transient visitors who rather project 
their own hurrying about judge these people to be nervous 
or self -centered. Why should not the hot summer be pleas- 
ant to a person who can stroll out or not, or go on an ex- 
cursion? But the rest of the people are hot, indignant, tired, 
nervous, and bored with their beautiful city, where they 
are working without much security at tasteless jobs. 

To beautify cities, the first step is to change the attitude 
with which people take their cities. 

A small boy, who would reflect the new security of his 
parents and never feel economic pressure at home, could 
not fail to find the sociological garden his best school. He 
would not resent it or distrust it. He would grow up pretty 
independent, ironical without fierceness, quite amiable, for 
nothing threatens; a srnart-aleck through and through who 
knows his way around. 

The Standard of Living 

It would be no small thing for people to understand 
clearly what poverty consists ofto understand it not in 

Three Community Paradigms 217 

terms of misery or unfortunate cases, but by a universal 
social standard. 
The subsistence standard that we have been describing 

is, of course, far above that which the majority of the human 
species in fact subsists on; but it is at least based on physio- 
logical, hygienic, climatic, and moral conditions and is not 
altogether a parochial cultural illusion, fostered by sales- 
manship, like the Standard of Living of the Americans. The 
intimate awareness of it would help dispel the attitude of 
the Americans toward those other peoples as not quite 
being human beings at all. 



These three paradigms are, to repeat it, not plans; they 
are models for thinking about the possible relations of pro- 
duction and way of life. Let us now say a few words about 
the relevance of these different modes of thought to different 
real situations in the world today. 

Scheme I 

Scheme I is drawn from the tastes and drives of America 
that are most obvious on the surface its high production, 
high Standard of Living and artificially-induced demand, its 
busy full employment. Much of this is now characterized 
by our moralists as useless and unstable. There is sharp 
criticism of the skimping on public goods when the produc- 
tion of frivolous private goods is so unbridled. Even worse, 
it is pointed out that the superabundance of private goods 
without the leavening of public goods (education, social 
services, wiser use of land) is destructive of the satisfactions 
of even the private goods. It is the aim of Scheme I to answer 
these complaints, to show how both public and private 
goods in full quantity can cooperate, assuming that we have 
the productivity for everything, which we have. 

To put it another way, our thought is to make a useless 
economy useful for something great, namely magnificence. 
The ideal of commercial grandeur is Venice, and we can 
aspire to it, to assume again the magnificence that human 
beings wear well. We have to think up some style or other 
to match the glamour of our coming interplanetary fleets. 

More particularly, we as New Yorkers have had in mind 


Three Community Paradigms 219 

our native city, and we have set down some suggestions for 
the public improvement of New York (Appendices A to D) . 

Scheme III 

Scheme III, for the direct production of subsistence 
goods, has obvious applications to regions that are poorly 
industrialized but densely populated. Shaking off colonial- 
ism and aspiring to industrialism, these regions have tended 
to adopt just the opposite policy, to industrialize totally as 
rapidly as possible and "catch up." The emphasis is on heavy 
industry, involving unaccustomed hard work now and ab- 
staining from consumers' goods till the future. Also, so far 
as the Americans have given or lent capital to these regions, 
we have had no policy and so our tendency is to repeat our 
own economic pattern. 

The policy of heavy industry has great disadvantages. It 
involves stringent dictatorship to plan huge goals and to 
enforce completely new work habits. There are no skills. It 
involves the breaking-up of age-old community forms with 
almost certain moral and youth problems coming in the 
wake. It guarantees much over-investment in disastrous mis- 
takes, with waste of wealth and human suffering. 

Just the opposite policy makes more sense: to start off 
by using the most advanced techniques to provide universal 
subsistence, and for the rich countries to give or lend the 
capital specific for this purpose. People are at once better 
off; they have more time. They then have the freedom to 
make their own community adjustments. Political pressure 
is low and state regulation is minimized. In the production 
of subsistence goods, there cannot be great mistakes, nothing 
is totally wasted. But further, the plan has the advantage of 
rapidly generating a more complicated economy and heavy 
industry under its own steam. For when people have once 
been raised above utter misery and given a tolerable secur- 
ity, they begin to have other wants and have the spirit and 
energy and a little money to try and satisfy them. Also, hav- 


ing used the machines for subsistence, they now have skills 
and work-habits. It is at this point that the production and 
import of other capital goods will come by popular demand, 
in the people's own style. Finally, such a plan would involve 
less suffering. 

But in advanced countries too this scheme is not irrele- 
vant. (Something like it, we think, was first proposed in 
the Weimar Republic.) For surplus productivity can lead 
to widespread unemployment as a desirable possibility; and 
this is a simple, honorable, and stabilizing way of coping 
with the problem. 

Scheme II 

Being artists, the authors of this book are naturally partial 
to the middle mode of thinking, Scheme II, where the pro- 
ducing and the product are of a piece and every part of life 
has value in itself as both means and end; where there is a 
community tradition of style that allows for great and re- 
fined work, and each man has a chance to enhance the com- 
munity style and transform it. 

Such a commune is Utopian, it is in the child-heart of man, 
and therefore it is easiest to think of it as growing in virgin 
territory with new people. 

If we think of the underdeveloped regions that are 
sparsely settled and rich in resources, parts of Siberia, 
Alaska or Africa, the Columbia River Basin or parts of South 
America, self-sufficient regionalism on a quality standard 
makes sense. Such regions could be most harmoniously de- 
veloped not by importing into them the total pattern of 
advanced technology (as is being done), but by the kind 
of industrial-agricultural symbiosis we have described, 
drawing always on their own resources and working them 
up themselves. If the old total pattern is simply reproduced 
in the new place, the first stage of a virgin area will be a 
colonial dependency, exporting raw materials; the final 
stage will be a merging into the national whole with no new 

Three Community Paradigms 221 

cultural contribution. But we need the new contribution. On 
the other hand, the quicker and more harmoniously the 
new place achieves a regional self-sufficiency, the more inde- 
pendently and selectively it can cope with the complex na- 
tional culture on its own terms, and the more characteristic 
its own contribution can be. A fresh region represents nature 
full of the possibilities of invention; an established economy 
is necessarily in the strait jacket of bad habits. 

Scheme IV: A Substitute for Everything 

There is, of course, still a fourth attitude toward the 
economy of abundance that is socially viable and implies a 

fourth community scheme. This is to put the surplus into 
combustibles and, igniting these, to destroy a more or less 
(it is hard to be sure) regulated part of the production and 
consumption goods, and the producers and the consumers. 
Recent studies in this mode of thinking have hit on tech- 
niques for the dislocation of industry into mountain-fast- 
nesses, the non-illumination of streets, the quickest way to 
hasten to the most deadly spot, the esthetics of invisibility, 
the enlivening of the atmosphere with radioactivity, and, in 
general, an efficient schedule for returning from the Sixth 
to before the First Day, 

The Need for Philosophy 

Mostly, however, the thousand places that one plans for 
have mixed conditions and mixed values. The site and his- 
tory of a place are always particular, and these make the 
beauty of a plan. Different people in a place want different 
things, and the same people want different things. Some 
of these conditions and aims are compatible and some are 
incompatible the musician, says Plato, knows which tones 
will combine and which will not combine. It's a difficult art 
that we have to learn. Other nations have had long experi- 
ence in developing their cities and villages. We can learn a 



are three synonymous words 81 


lot from them, but we cannot learn the essential things, how 
to cope with the modern plight. 

For in the present period of history, we Americans are 
the oldest and most experienced people in the world. We 
were the first to have the modem political revolution and 
the maturity of the industrial revolution. These, combined 
with our fortunate natural resources and geography, have 
made us the first to experience the full impact of the high 
Standard of Living and a productivity that improves, tech- 
nically, nearly 4% a year. As the first to experience it, 
we are deeply disappointed in progress, confused, afraid 
of serious decisions, and therefore reactionary and con- 
formist in important matters. Yet as the oldest and most 
experienced, we have the responsibility to be wise. 

One way or another, there is no doubt that the Americans 
are going to be spending a lot more on public goods. The 
so-called Urban Renewal program is at present important 
and will be more so. It is essential that these new efforts 
make sense, not only to avoid misusing the money but be- 
cause it is the nature of a physical plant that once built it 
stays and stays. Ignorant and philistine planning long ago 
saddled us with many of our present problems. It continues 
to do so. Ameliorative plans are then proposed a new sub- 
way, a new highway, slum-clearance which soon reproduce 
the evil in a worse degree. We then have the familiar pro- 
liferation of means, of feats of engineering and architecture, 
public goods, when what is needed is human scale. People 
are rightly suspicious of planning, and they end up with 
everything being overplanned, no freedom from the plan, 
and the purpose lost. This is because nobody has dared to 

Three Community Paradigms 223 

be philosophical, to raise the question of the end in view, 
rather than merely trying to get out of a box. 

It is understood by sociologists, anthropologists, and psy- 
chologists that the different functions of men and groups 
cohere in whole patterns of culture. But our physical plan- 
ning in the most sensitive areas, like housing or schools, is 
carried on with eyes shut to the whole pattern. For instance, 
housing is discussed in terms of bio-sociological standards 
of decency and cost problems of land and construction, but 
not much attention is paid to the land of community result- 
ing. The community has increasing class stratification and 
increasing juvenile delinquency, effects that were not aimed 
at. But of course, to avoid pressing community problems and 
to concentrate on "practical" solutions and to exclude mi- 
norities and increase delinquency is now the pattern of our 
culture. Is this inevitable? 

Bosanquet said somewhere that the characteristic of phi- 
losophy is to be concrete and central. By concrete and cen- 
tral he would mean, in our present subject, directly attend- 
ing to the human beings, the citizens of the city, their 
concrete behavior and their indispensable concerns, rather 
than getting lost in traffic problems, housing problems, tax 
problems, and problems of law enforcement. It is concrete 
to plan work, residence, and transit as one problem. It is 



central to keep one's eyes on the center of the target, the 
community and its way of life, not exaggerating production, 
the Standard of Living, or special interests out of all pro- 

In this difficult art, the people are not philosophical, they 
do not know the concrete and central facts. Yet only the 
people can know them. The answer is in the remarkable 
and thought-provoking sentence of Michelet: "Initiation, 
education, and governmentthese are three synonomous 


Manhattan Isknd, as we here propose to alter it. Up the center 
of the ishnd runs a narrow strip of business and industrial 
buildings, shown here by cross-hatching. On either side of it 
are north-and-south arterial highways. Toward both rivers are 
residential areas and parks, and the river banks themselves, in 
most parts of town, would be given over to recreation. (A) shows 
heliport location. 






A Master Plan for New York 

Make no little plans; they hate no magic to stir men's 
blood, and probably themselves will not be realized. 
Make big plans: aim high in hope and work, remem- 
bering that a noble, logical diagram, once recorded, 
will never die, but long after we are gone will be a 
living thing, asserting itself with ever growing in- 
sistency.' Daniel Burnham. 

A Master Plan is a directive for the progressive development 
of a region toward its ideal form. Such a plan is possible 
when, without sudden and \iolent changes of the whole, the 
buildings and community functions may be gradually but 
systematically replaced correctly if they were not correctly 
placed to begin with or if their places have become out- 
moded. Such a plan may take two or three decades to ma- 
ture, while the old structures obsolesce and the new ones 
are laid down in convenient order. It is worth while for such 
a long-range plan to aim at a high excellence. 

Now the island of Manhattan can aim to be, for the next 
fifty years, the cultural, business, style and entertainment 
capital of the world. And by taking advantage, for the first 
time, of its rivers hitherto almost preempted by commerce 
and industry it can become a city of neighborhoods won- 
derful to live in, as leisurely and comfortable as it is busy and 
exciting. What is needed for this is a Master Plan. The ma- 
jority of apartment and commercial buildings in Manhattan 
are now obsolescent. Therefore any proposed transformation 
which follows the site and which, without violence, follows 
the historical trends, can begin at once and be carried 
through in our generation. "Following historical trends" 
means emphasizing the location of commercial and residen- 
* New Republic, Nov. 20, 1944, pp. 656-59. 


228 C O M M U N I T A S 

tial regions as they have in fact been developing for strong 
natural reasons, and to regularize these trends by weeding 
out and zoning. 

Our plan is, simply: 

1. To extend the business and light industry and all 
through traffic of Manhattan in a continuous axis up the 
middle of the island. 

2. To remove the through avenues on the sides and 
develop the land on either side of the axis in park-residential 
neighborhoods right down to the rivers. 

3. And to develop the shores (north of, say, Twenty- 
third Street) as beaches for bathing, boating and promen- 

This would extend the zone of work and all through 
traffic in a continuous axis up the narrow island, with neigh- 
borhoods adjacent on either side, and put a stop to the 
tremendous twice-daily flow of uptown-downtown traffic 
by giving to the majority of Manhattan residents the chance 
of a home within walking distance of their work. 

It would also clear the shores for the greater part of 
their 29-mile length and develop them for sport and resi- 
dence, recognizing that the riverfront in Manhattan proper 
has diminished in commercial importance and may now 
be put to another use. 

By making the neighborhoods more livable and using the 
amenities that naturally exist in this wonderful location, we 
can do away with the necessity of fleeing great distances for 
recreation, and restore leisure to a place that is notorious for 
its nervousness. 

Historically, we may say that the first general plan of 
New York was the layout of the gridiron of avenues and 
streets around 1800, an expedient for land sale. This grid- 
iron, with its long north-south avenues, gave to Manhattan 
its famous accessibility and clarity; but there is no doubt 
that, especially uptown, it did violence to the hillier con- 
tours; and of course it has failed to be adequate to the 
necessities of modem traffic. 

The second plan could be considered to be the layout of 
the parks up the middle of the island, especially Central, 
Morningside and St. Nicholas Parks. This great scheme of 

Appendices 229 

Randall, Vaux, Olmstead and others in the middle of the 
last century, and so vigilantly defended by public spirit ever 
since, gave the spreading city a real form; it prevented it 
from becoming an endless jungle of street after street. Since 
the rivers were given over to industry, shipping and the 
railroads, it at least guaranteed that some neighborhoods 
could face inward on a green belt. We should not for a 
moment venture to destroy this wonderful stratagem of 
the central parks, were it not the case that more and more 
the river-parks have proved their value and more and more 
the smaller parks have become the most desired neighbor- 
hoods for people who can afford them. 

The third major plan, and the first Master Plan so-called, 
was the proposal of the City Planning Commission under 
Rexford Tugwell (1941), following after the unofficial 
Xew York Regional Plan of the twenties. This plan con- 
tained many subplans (for highways, sewers, health facili- 
ties, etc. ) , all based on the key plan showing land use. The 
proposed use of the land in Manhattan was a reformatory 
attempt to locate the industries of the island within more 
limited boundaries downtown and to develop them in sev- 
eral new belts uptown. The subplans were accepted, the 
key plan was rejected, and the result is that, contrary to 
its' charter, the greatest city in the world has no Master 

Manhattan Island, viewed as a whole, now exhibits the 
following anomalies. Ordinarily we should expect a town 
on an important body of water to open out toward the water 
for both industry and amenity; perhaps to be terraced to- 
ward it. In Manhattan, for unfortunate reasons, the people 
face inward, except that around much of the island there 
is an apartment-house cliff, so that the form of the whole is 
more like a bowl than a terrace. The apartments overlooking 
the Hudson and the East Rivers are tall because the view 
is desirable and the rents are high; but all others are cut 
off from the same amenity. Yet even the riverview dwellers 
have only a view but no close contact, for they are separated 
from the water by an obsolete railroad and an increasing 
number of elaborate highways. 

In a deeper sense, these peripheral highways were not 
designed primarily for the residents of the city itself, but, 


like several other works of engineering of the past decade, 
for commuters outside the city, who choose, and can afford, 
to live in Westchester or on Long Island. Such means can- 
not solve the traffic problems of a great city! So long as 3 
million people enter downtown Manhattan every day and 
swell the downtown population from 360,000 to nearly 4 
million, and retreat again as evening falls, there will be 
traffic congestion and sardine-tin subways. 

To build more escape-highways or new subways only 
invites still more people away from the center to crowd 
back into it during the hours of business. And vice versa, so 
long as the chief facilities for recreation are thrown into the 
periphery, at Coney Island, Van Cortland Park, Jones Beach, 
etc., the" majority are forced to commute in the other di- 
rection and pay for a few hours of recreation with two long 
hours of travel. 

In general, the proper solution for problems of transit is 
to cut down the number of trips. And this can be done only 
by bringing work, residence and recreation closer together. 
In a place like Manhattan this cannot be done by piecemeal 
planning; but fortunately, as we have shown, the natural 
site and many important historical trends, and the rapid 
rate of replacement, make major planning entirely feasible. 

The Parts of the Physical Plan 

Acreage and density. Manhattan Island is not crowded. 
At present it has a theoretical residential density of 200 to 
the acre (about 9,000 residential acres to 1,900,000 per- 
sons) . And if this density fails to allow for spacious, green, 
livable neighborhoods, the fault lies not in the numbers 
but in the layout. 

In the first place, correct layout would enormously in- 
crease the available residential acreage. For instance, the 
gridiron of streets and avenues at present uses up 27.4% 
of the total area of the island. By rationalizing the system of 
avenues into two multi-level through highways up the axis, 
and by closing off at least every other one of the neighbor- 
hood streets and providing for merely local neighborhood 
traffic, this figure could be cut in half. And if we look at the 

Appendices 231 

present blocks of buildings themselves small, helter-skelter, 
honeycombed with vent shafts outside and with repeating 
stairwells inside we can see that for the same density, a 
weeding out and more rational new construction would add 
a tremendous increment of available open space. 

Let us maintain the existing density of 200 to the acre. 
What does this figure mean in terms of living? It is certainly 
not a place of private houses and little gardens (45 to the 
acre); but Manhattanites do not require these in any case; 
for those who choose the cosmopolitan way of life are man- 
ning, and supporting by their rent, a center of world culture 
and world affairs, and they enjoy the advantages and monu- 
ments of such a center. Yet it is a place where, if people lived 
in tall buildings (15 stories), every room would face on a 
Madison or Washington Square; and where, if they lived in 
a combination of tall and low buildings (three stories) on 
every other street, there would be room for a football field! 

The zone of industry and commerce. The economy of 
Manhattan comprises: the light manufacture of consumers' 
goods and small machined parts; shipping and moderately 
heavy warehousing; business management and finance; re- 
tailing and display; ideas, styles, entertainment. It is an 
economy of relatively small shops whose materials are 
brought and whose products are carted away by truck. 
There is no heavy industry to speak of. During peacetime 
the volume of heavy shipping was sharply falling off, and 
the war has shown that the present docks are three or four 
times too large for peacetime demands. 

Nothing therefore stands in the way of extending this 
economy up the entire island. Already in the Tugwell plan, 
following the actual trends, isolated new commercial dis- 
tricts were recommended uptown. We propose simply to 
unite these in a continuous belt served by continuous high- 
ways and to relocate uptown not only business but places 
of light manufacture (e.g., the garment industry). But the 
advantages of doing this are extraordinary; for it means that 
many hundreds of thousands of workers, instead of traveling 
the whole length of the island twice a day, could now live 
in the neighborhoods next to their work. 

Up and down this great Main Street, the different kinds 


of industry would find their own zones. It is reasonable to 
assume that Midtown, the site of the great terminals and 
therefore of the great hotels, would continue to be the enter- 
tainment, style and idea center; and that business and 
finance would cluster in its cliffs around Wall Street. The 
ships and warehouses must occupy the downtown shores. 
(Therefore we provide in Greenwich Village a downtown 
residential neighborhood in the center rather than on the 
shore.) But the great mass of business and manufacture that 
now sporadically mars the whole breadth of Manhattan 
could find its place anywhere from north to south between 
the highways. 

Airport. To provide for air transport, of persons and com- 
modities, is perhaps the thorniest problem in all cosmopoli- 
tan planning. No existent city is adapted for the large 
landing fields and the noise of an airport. The expedient up 
to now has been to locate the airport on the outskirts- 
requiring an hour's travel for a trip that itself may last only 
an hour. The airport must somehow be brought near the 
center. But the rapid evolution of air technique makes it 
again difficult to know what kind and how large a space can 
be allotted. A number of modern plans provide for heli- 
copter landings on the roofs of large buildings. 

As a tentative proposal, we have chosen an area on the 
Hudson River from Forty-second to Twenty-third Streets. 
The river provides an open space for maneuvering. Im- 
mediately accessible on one side is the midtown section of 
the terminals and hotels; and on the other side the zone of 
shipping and warehousing. The airport itself is conceived as 
the roof of an enormous warehouse shed. 

Residential neighborhoods and the use of the rivers. We 
come now to the residential neighborhoods themselves, ex- 
tending on either side of the axis right down to the Hudson, 
East and Harlem Rivers; served by regular cross highways to 
the main highways, but without any through traffic. 

These neighborhoods must be thought of not as places 
accessible to parks, but as parks in themselves for the 
formal parks of Manhattan are being sacrificed to them. As 
our discussion of density has shown, it is not important 
whether the houses are high or low; obviously there should 

Appendices 233 

be a combination of both. But their layout must be such as 
to be in a park, and, where possible, to face toward the 
water, to be terraced toward the water. The rivers, the 
park and the habitations must be a continuous visual and 
ambulatory experience. The urban park must not be a place 
of escape but a place in which to live. 

It is to be hoped that such neighborhoods, where people 
feel they live rather than merely sleep, would develop sharp 
local peculiarities. For instance (if we may propose some- 
thing that will make many people's hair stand on end) , let 
certain great masterpieces of art be decentralized from the 
Metropolitan Museum of Art and placed in neighborhood 
post offices and churches, or a world-famous statue on a 
fountain; then the neighbors might get to live with these in 
a rather closer way, and art lovers have to seek them out in 
parts of our city that they would otherwise never visit. 

Except for a few spots where the currents are dangerous, 
Manhattan's rivers are ideal for swimming and boating. 
( The job of cleaning them up has already begun and is on 
the postwar agenda.) Let them finally be used by every- 
body, as they are now by the venturesome boys. Visitors to 
Chicago or Rio, for instance, know what it means to have 
a great sweep of water for bathing at the foot of every 
street, and Manhattan has twice and three times as much 
shorefront per person. 

To make a bathing resort of residential Manhattan Island 
is a grandiose project; but it is not nearly so grandiose as for 
tens of thousands to go off on every hot day to places 10 to 
50 miles away from their homes. 

The idea of Manhattan. This plan for Manhattan Island 
is not a plan for the New York region. Most often, to make 
such an isolated plan is ruinous; but Manhattan has a pe- 
culiar role not only in the New York region but in the world 
(which is the true region of our cosmopolis) . Its problems, 
and its advantages, are not those of its surroundings. 

In general, the great urban communities of America 
would be better if they were smaller in size; if they had a 
closer and less parasitic dependence on the surrounding 
agriculture; if their manufacturers sprang more directly 
from their regional resources. This rule, we say, applies to 


other cities. Yet there is no need to defend Manhattan 
Island; she has her own rule; there is no need to praise her, 
though we who are her sons are often betrayed into doing 
so. She has long been the capital not of a region but of a 
nation; and it is curious that this came about. For it was as 
a center through which produce passed and was processed 
that New York first became great. Y 7 et now the material 
shipments more and more go elsewhere, and the manufac- 
turers are only light manufacturers; but Manhattan is 
greater still. Within ten years she has become the intellectual 
and artistic capital of the world for all Europe has come 
here. She is the foster-parent of lasting ideas and temporary 
fashions; of entertainments and of industrial plans that often 
go elsewhere to get their tangible body, but their spirit has 
something in it of Manhattan. That is, of the seaport and 
its mixed races, and the politically subtle workers in light 
industry, the mass-entertainers and the free artists. 

Surely we people of Manhattan do not set as our ideal 
(if we could afford it) to live in a suburb. But to live as 
a matter of course in our own place, the most elegant and 
unhurried on earth. 


This plan is physically, economically and socially feasible 
and advantageous. 

1. In the interest of the shore neighborhoods, we diminish 
the waterfront available for shipping and remove the Hud- 
son River tracks. But the tracks have long been moribund, 
and peacetime shipping is progressively being reduced. 

2. Important progress toward the completion of the plan 
could begin immediately after the war (as part of the 
billion-dollar six-year budget) . It is estimated that from 75 
to 80% of the buildings in Manhattan are overage and there 
will be vast reconstruction on any plan whatsoever. But the 
city's largest and newest buildings do fall in the zones here 
proposed (e.g., Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Build- 
ing, the downtown skyscrapers, the great hotels, etc.). 

3. The giving up of the parks in the central axis provides 
an enormous reservoir of land to exchange for the commer- 

Appendices 235 

cial and industrial property now located along the rivers, trie 
sites of the future residential parks. As these business sites 
progressively obsolesce and are condemned, space can be 
allotted to them in the large buildings in the main axis; 
therefore the transition can be made with a minimum of 
hardship. Further, the money value of a square foot of land 
along the central Main Street would be at least five times 
that in the scattered sites to be condemned; and this would 
provide a great fund to carry out the plan. The amount of 
land available for exchange in the new Main Street zone 
comes close to 1500 acres, valued at business center prices. 

4. "If it were possible to translate into dollars the time 
consumed by workers in excess travel, the result would be 
startling. At least one million persons spend two hours a day 
going to and from work in New York. At 50 cents an hour, 
this becomes a million dollars a day or 312 million a year. 
This is three percent of $10 billion, which would pay for 
rebuilding large sections of New York City without calcu- 
lating revenues from rents." Cleveland Rogers. 

5. The political and legal opposition to this plan is the 
same as that to any other Master Plan. Long-range and 
large-scale zoning involves the destruction of speculation 
in land values. Those who rely for their profits not on rents 
but on speculation, have contrived to veto even the modest 
proposals of the Tugwell plan. But it seems to us that the 
proposal here made is at once so arresting and so simple, so 
grounded in the site and the history of the city and in the 
experience of its citizens, that it can arouse the public en- 
thusiasm necessary to overcome this opposition, and end 
the anomaly of the greatest city in the world having no 
Master Plan at all. 


Improvement o Fifth Avenue 

As early as 1870, it was proposed, by Egbert L. Viele and 
others, to double-deck Lower Broadway and Wai Street 
because of "excessive and dangerous congestion." We here 



make a similar proposal to revive the amenity of New York's 
great shopping and promenade street, Fifth Avenue. 

The present ground level is widened by the elimination 
of the sidewalks and all pedestrian use. 

Sixteen feet above it we would construct a continuous 
promenade from 34th Street to 59th Street. This mall is 
accessible by ramps and stairways from the side streets, and 
provided with a slow moving shoppers' trolley of its own. 

The new Fifth Avenue is treated as a street of fountains, 
arcades, sidewalk cafes, elegant shops, and interesting vis- 
tas; the place, as at present, for public ceremonies, parades, 
and celebrations, that can now be unhurried and not disrupt 
the city's traffic. 

As a further proposal, the entire area from 8th Avenue 
to 3rd Avenue could be similarly double-decked. 

Pkn for doubk decking 5th Avenue from 34ih St. to 59th St. 
1. Ramp with new office buildings over 2. Public library 3. 
Rockefeller Center 4. St. Patrick's Cathedral 5. Grand Army 
Pkza. Bekw is shuttk to East and West Side subways. 

Grand Army Pkza 
at 60th St. fooking south 

On St, Patrick's Day 

Looteig north from 47th St. 

The pook in the foreground are on wheek. 

The public library 


Housing in New York City 

In New York City the housing problem is more difficult than 
elsewhere. There is too much substandard housing, not 
enough housing altogether, standard or substandard, and 
not enough space to build new housing before demolishing 
old, so there is the headache of relocation during the inter- 
ims. (There are 280,000 substandard units. The estimated 
need for total housing is 65,000 a year, the net new building 
is 16,000.) 

Now in charge of building and financing such housing 
are many agencies, some designed for housing the poor, 
some for housing generally, some agents of the city, but 
others agents of the State and Federal governments. They 
are, in part, the Housing Authority, the Mayor's Commission 
on Slum Clearance and Urban Renewal, the Comptroller's 
Office, the Board of Estimate, the Bureau of Real Estate, the 
Department of Buildings, and various State and Federal 


Appendices 241 

Housing Agencies. Meantime, uncoordinated with these, 
there are agencies in charge of location of schools (Board 

of Education), and playgrounds and parks (Parks). Trans- 
portation by rail falls to the Transit Authority, but if it is 
automotive it may fall to the Port Authority (for certain 
highways, tunnels, and bridges) or the Triborough Bridge 
and Tunnel Authority (for other highways, etc.). When 
cars are moving or parked in the streets, they belong to the 
Traffic Department; and safety in general belongs to the 
Police. Nobody as such attends to the specific relation of 
workers and their particular industries, the cause of all this 
commutation, but there are zoning Iaw r s for broad kinds of 
occupancy, under the City Planning Commission. Neighbor- 
hood quarrels, family disruption, etc., might be handled by 
the Police and various Social agencies. Other departments, 
too, have a hand in the community planning of New York, 
e.g., Public Works, Gas, Water and Electricity, etc. 

This is not very promising. Further, it is generally agreed 
that unaided private enterprise cannot fill three-fourths 
of the housing need. It is agreed that income-segregation 
has undesirable effects, is a condition of juvenile delin- 
quency, unsafe streets. Racial segregation is a problem not 
beginning to be solved. The traffic congestion is intolerable. 

Under the circumstances it seems reasonable to ask if 
the integration of all these various functions is not relevant? 
To give a partial list: housing, slum-clearance, location of 
industries, transportation, adequate schools and teachers, 
clean streets, traffic control, social work, racial harmony, 
master planning, recreation. The list could be long extended, 
not to speak of a convenient and beautiful city and local 
patriotism. It is not to be hoped that in the near future we 
can have an efficient, viable a peaceful city. But we do have 
the right to demand that the manifold functions (and their 
problems) be regarded in an overall view as functions of one 
community. Apart from such a unified view, the apparent 
solution of this or that isolated problem inevitably leads to 
disruption elsewhere. Escape thoroughfares must aggravate 
central traffic. Slum-clearance as an isolated policy must 
aggravate class stratification. New subways aggravate con- 
urbation. "Housing" makes for double shift and over- 
crowded classrooms. No Master Plan guarantees foolishness 


like the Lincoln Square project. These consequent evils then 
produce new evils among them. Isolated planning cannot 
make sense. Therefore we propose a Community Planning 

Such a body would at least coordinate. But it should also 
know how to draw out and explain the bearings and the 
effects of isolated actions and proposals, for even the best- 
intentioned actions in such a social area as physical plan- 
ning often have far-reaching disastrous effects that the 
planners never thought of. (At present, the likely undesir- 
able social effects of physical proposals come to light, if 
at all, only by the clamor of ad hoc pressure groups of citi- 
zens who foresee where the shoe will pinch. The protest 
is bound to be weak, and it has no competent body to 
appeal to. Usually it is disregarded, and once a thing is 
built it's built and stays.) On the other hand, there are 
plans of multi-valued community benefit which require 
the cooperation of several departments, but which are not 
immediately relevant enough to any one to get sponsorship. 
These would be precisely appropriate to a Community Plan- 
ning Agency. It would have community suggestions, ideals, 
and proposals of its own. It could set before the citizens 
reasonably integrated pictures of what various plans and 
policies concretely mean in each one's way of life, so that 
choices e.g., referenda on financing public works can be 
made not completely in the dark. And the Agency would 
propose its own programs. 

Isolated approaches can always have routine plans to fit 
narrow programs. Broadly conceived approaches, that try 
to cope with the complex reality, have no such wisdom. 
They must proceed variously and experimentally and find 
which hypotheses confirm themselves in action. It is not 
even sufficient to find out what people want and give them 
that, for, as Catherine Bauer put it, "We can only want 
what we know. Deeper analysis may suggest some entirely 
novel arrangement. The only way such an arrangement can 

Appendices 248 

be tested is by experimentation with its actual use, not by 
asking opinions in advance." So the community approach 
must be not only varied and experimental but inventive. 

What warrants the uniformity of plans of the Housing 
Authority? As we pointed out in the text above (p. 53) the 
standards fit the customs of neither the tenants nor the 
designers. They are sociological abstractions of an "Ameri- 
can Standard" with little imagination of the actual residents. 
Space is sacrificed for building services and domestic appli- 
ances. Poor tenants arrive and do not find room for the little 
furniture they have. Are the larger cold-water railroad lats 
in the same neighborhood, at a cheaper rental, necessarily 
less desirable? Not much use is made of sharing appliances 
as a way to save expense. Spaces are uniformly partitioned 
in a very few categories, though specific occupants might 
have quite different needs. (E.g., in Sweden a spacious com- 
mon room is much wanted.) Given a minimum budget, is 
the standard bathroom a minimum? In certain Swedish 
plans-we cite them because the Swedes are thought to have 
a quality standard higher than ours the bathroom is a toilet 
seat with a shower directly above It; hands are washed in 
the kitchen sink. In a development in Leipzig, tenants 
wanted balconies, and central heating was not considered an 
equal value. 

(If the reader will thumb through such a volume as 
Elizabeth Denby's Europe Rehoused, he will get no uniform 
impression of what people consider fundamentally es- 

Plaster and paint are considered a minimum amenitv, 
despite the cost of upkeep; tile would not do. Yet a few 
years ago in this same city, wall-paper was an indispensable 
amenity. Is it always wise to spend money to landscape an 
insufficient space? 

We need not mention the pointlessness of repeating the 
same elevation in a dozen buildings, because this is not 
policy but timidity and laziness. Though indeed, as came out 
in the recent public attacks on some small attempts to 
beautify new school buildings, there is a widespread feeling 
that variety and unconventional shapes and colors must be 
wasteful and are certainly wicked. 


On the other hand, if we take a community approach 
instead of a "houser's" approach, we might have thoughts 
like the following. Perhaps variety of occupancy makes for 
the best neighborhood. Certainly income-segregation is 
unfortunate. How can we get more types together? Might 
not the exclusive barrier between public and private financ- 
ing be broken down and various other arrangements be 

Hudson Guild conducted a brilliant project in the Chelsea 
district, getting a few Puerto Rican families to take pride in 
their flats by building furniture, repairing, and decorating, 
under expert guidance. There is a lesson here. Use the 
people of the community-block instead of other paid labor. 
Youth for janitoring, grounds, and landscaping, as collegians 
work for their keep. Perhaps the very apartment spaces 
could be left more open, for the tenants to decide on their 
own partitioning and help build it. Artistic effects are pos- 
sible; the modern Mexicans have paved their walks with 
mosaics of colored stones and broken bath-tiles, rather than 
black asphalt, because they have had willing labor. 

True, if you give people the sense that they can make and 
change things, there might be a little constructive demoli- 
tion to remedy what the architect did wrong. These are the 
risks one takes. 

Such activities require leadership. Have efforts been 
made to get community leadership right into the neighbor- 
hood block? For there is plenty of leadership, paid and 
voluntary, in the social agencies and settlement houses. 
Might not leaders, ministers, teachers, even politicians, be 
encouraged by better quarters to live in the place and take 
some responsibility for it? Consider racial integration: has 
enough attempt been made at invited racial integration? 

There are always too many applicants. ("More than 250,- 
000 families applied for admission to the 17,040 apartments 
made available by the Authority during 1943-44") Perhaps 
mutual community utility could be a major principle of 
selection. We recall the arrangement common in Paris after 

Appendices 245 

Hausmann rebuilt it: there was a shop on the first floor, the 
poor family inhabited the mansard, and the rich and middle 
class occupied the remainder. 


A Plan for the Rejuvenation 
of a Blighted Industrial Area 
in New York City (1944-45) 

The present plight of Long Island City is by no means ex- 
clusive to New York. Most of America's metropolitan centers 
have one or more sections suffering from similar obolescence 
and blight. Flanked by the East River and Manhattan Island 
on the west and the borough of Queens on the east, Long 
Island City was nevertheless completely overlooked during 
the flagrant exploitation of Queens during the early part 
of the century and has been ever since. It was already par- 
tially built up when suburban development reached its hey- 
day and eager speculators passed it up for fresh, unimproved 
land beyond. Even by 1910, it had a clearcut industrial 
character and was later zoned for such use a measure which 
unfortunately discouraged residential building and left a 
myriad of small parcels of vacant land spotted at random 
between existing factories. Since 1915 three subways and 
numerous surface transportation lines have been built 
through the area to make connections between Manhattan 
and Queens, but still it has reaped little or no improvement 
from its new-found strategic location. Further in its favor 
as a convenient residential section is the Queensboro Bridge 
approach located at its very core and the Queens-Midtown 
tunnel at its low extremity. 

1 Description of project by the editors of the Architectural 
Forum, February, 1946. 

Showing proximity to the city center, convenience of transporta- 
tion, and riverside location. To the south is the "Riverview" 
residential community (A); to the north, the "work residence" 
community (B). 

Despite its location (fifteen minutes of easy travel to 
Times Square), and good transportation facilities, Long 
Island City's present condition is one of advanced decay. 
Though the huge Sunnyside freight and the passenger yards 
belonging to the Pennsylvania Railroad inject some lif e and 
small commerce, their inland site has tended to draw build- 
ing and development away from the waterfront, while the 
existence of two car-float terminals from Staten Island and 
New Jersey has rendered the riverfront anything but desir- 
able for residence. As a result vacant land abounds; values 

Appendices 247 

are low, ranging from 50 cents to $2.25 per sq. ft. and low- 
est near the shoreline. According to the 1930 census, Long 

Island City's population was only 40,800, representing a 
density of about 23 persons per acre. What dwellings exist, 
are, for the most part, slums or near-slums, having been 
built prior to 1899. 

Because of its size and proximity to midtown New York, it 
is only logical that such an area should be a healthy, active 
and important part of greater New York and not the liability 
that its delinquent taxes and low values represent today. 
With this in mind two schemes of redevelopment are pro- 
posed, 1. A community, zoning existing light manufacturing 
and residence extending from Hallets Cove to the Queens- 
bridge Houses north of Queensboro Bridge. This project 
was designed by the City Planning Group of Columbia Uni- 
versity under the direction of Percival Goodman. 2. South 
of the bridge extending to 35th Street is the proposed 114 
acre Riverview Community designed by Pomerance and 
Breines, Andrew J. Thomas and Percival Goodman, Associ- 
ated Architects. This project takes full advantage of a water- 
front location and the striking skyline view offered by Man- 
hattan's tall buildings across the river. It is intended to 
house some 50,000 persons (because of present low density, 
this would call for rehousing only about 5,000). Privately 
financed and paying full taxes, it is estimated that rents 
would run between 11.50 and $25.00 per room per month. 
The project, which encompasses about one-quarter of the 
total area, is bounded to the North by the Queensboro 
Bridge approach and the existing Queensbridge housing 
project. Further north, and also on the river, is planned 
another residential section with a density of about 200 per- 
sons per acre. Between the latter and the Surmyside yards 
to the east would be located a third neighborhood zoned 
for housing and restricted industry. The planners foresee 
that many existing non-nuisance factories could be retained 
in this area and converted into local assets rather than lia- 
bilities. They feel that the existing street pattern should 
not be altered but merely blocked at given points to increase 
land values and improve the appearance of the community 
as a whole. 


Naturally, such a plan calls for rezoning of the "work- 
residence" type with its obvious advantages: lower trans- 
portation costs for the worker who can live near his place 
of employment, a rise in land values in the sections now 
overzoned for industry, replacement of industrial slums with 
parks, playgrounds and other public conveniences. Also in- 
cluded in the plan is provision for the improvement of exist- 
ing overhead transportation structures and replanning of 
through traffic at Queens Plaza, a nearby intersection and 
passenger transfer point of intense congestion.